A toddler's universe pretty much boils down to three things: 1) me 2) mine and 3) love me. They know exactly what they want, even if they can't convey it in a language that others understand yet. They haven't yet been completely socialized or conditioned to understand that they can't always get what they want, and they're often physically too small just to go and take what they want. All of these factors combined mean that life with a toddler is a little like living in the vicinity of an active volcano. You can expect that it will pretty much erupt at any time, but you can't predict when, how often, or how much.
Many a toddler tantrum has roots with mom or dad not understanding what he wants, which just sends him (and often the parent, too) spiraling out of control in fury. Communication issues are one thing (and something they eventually outgrow), but what do you do when you know exactly what your toddler wants, but it's completely unreasonable?
In a scene from my own life - of late, my 2-year old, the Caboose, has an obsession with lights and fans. He wants to spend all day, every day, walking around the house turning lights and fans ON and then going back and turning them OFF. And then on, and then off. Repeat. Obviously this is not a realistic nor healthy use of time. I gamely played along for 10 minutes or so, and then made several attempts to redirect him to other toys, sternly telling him I was NOT going to play his game anymore because I had work to do. This literally sent him over the edge. He was beside himself in an inconsolable fit of fury. This led to a time-out to get control of himself, which only further enraged him. He didn't want hugs, he didn't want his Lovey - I was at a complete loss as to how to calm him down.
He had just woken up from nap and had a snack, so he wasn't tired or hungry. He was just being unreasonable and no stern admonitions or time-outs were going to stop him. This particular fit lasted a good 15 minutes, and what finally shut him up was when his brother offered him a cookie. Now, why didn't I think of that?
But seriously, as I replay the scene in my head (because I'm sure to replay it in my reality tomorrow), I'm not sure what to do differently. He knows what he wants and is determined to have it. While I can give a little, I have to draw a line somewhere - which leaves us at a standoff at that line in the sand. And how do you reason with someone who is so unreasonable?
Tell us your most effective methods of tempering toddler tantrums. I'll need a few new tricks in my bag tomorrow, so I promise to test-drive them all.