Of toddlers and tantrums

As you might have deduced from that last post, Little Boy has entered the tantrum age.  He’s smart and curious and loving and he makes noises that sound like a cute gremlin and he giggles like crazy when we tuck him in at night—and he throws a fit when he doesn’t get his way.  Sometimes those fits are rather dramatic.  He’ll fling himself on the ground and angrily refuse all attempts at comfort.

You know what?  I kind of get it.

Some people say tantrums as kids trying to get their way, but I don’t think they’re that, not really.  Trying to get his way comes before the tantrum, when Little Boy communicates via word and gesture the thing it is that he so desperately wants.  Despite a vocabulary of less than a dozen words, it’s usually pretty easy to understand him.

No, the tantrum is the frustration at being denied.  It’s an expression of the anger and vexation and helplessness that comes when you don’t understand why Mommy said no, we can’t put on our shoes and go to the park right now.  I suppose that a kid could learn that tantrums get them what they want, depending on the parent’s response, but they don’t start out that way.

When I say I get it, what I mean is this: I know what it’s like to feel hopelessly frustrated, to the point of great anguish, by something that’s out of my control.  I know what it’s like to be angry about something other people think is totally irrational, or even by something I think is irrational.  Little Boy is experiencing totally valid feelings, even if he’s acting on them in a somewhat socially inappropriate way.

Which isn’t to say that Little Boy’s tantrums aren’t sometimes frustrating and tiresome for me and his dad.  Just that I get where he’s coming from.

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