“I don’t know what I want but give me what I want damn it!” There are no other words that better describe a toddler tantrum in action. I can’t believe I was one of those people who glared at moms who could not control their screaming child down the grocery store aisle, in a restaurant or anywhere. Now as a mother let me tell you, it is not a spoiled or poorly disciplined child screaming down the aisle. You are looking at a toddler who has no clue what they want, but they want it and better get it. So you better figure it out before they do, and if you don’t all hell will break loose. Sometimes they know exactly what they want, something they can’t have. But they will continue to cry even after they’ve gotten what they want so you wonder “What was the point?”and now you’ve lost this battle. This is the ultimate battle between a mother and her toddler. “I will put my foot down and win!” The way to win is to not give them what they want. So yes my child is going to scream, cry, and throw her hands all over the air until she gets what she wants. But will she get it? No. This is how I’m disciplining my child. I am teaching her that she will not always get what she wants. So to everyone side-eyeing me in public, I will not apologize. I apologize that you were expecting an apology, though.
The truth is toddlers throw tantrums everywhere and for many different reasons. But, the worst tantrums I’ve had to experience with Rudeena are her, what I call, post-nap tantrums. Usually, she’ll wake up super grumpy from her naps. Maybe grumpy is an understatement. Annoyed, irritable, heated, all combined, sounds much better. I can just tell how her mood will be as soon as her eyes open. The look she gives me is either “Why are you in my face? Why are you here? Why do you exist? Why, why, why?”, or “Mommy I’m so happy to see you!”. I wish there were more happy post naps, but unfortunately she almost always wakes up bitter. One second your watching your child sleeping like an angel, so peacefully, and the next they’ve transformed into Taz destroying everything around them. Rudeena will make sure everyone around her know that she’s angry. If you so much look at her when she’s waken up, she will scream. She will grab anything around her and toss it on the floor and give you that “What are you going to do about it?” look where she will look you straight in face, raise her eyebrows and widen her eyes, then take a deep breathe in-and-out. There it is. That’s what she’s looking for. They feed on moms attention. I want to hug her to calm her down, but she will only cry more, for more and more affection. It’s a cycle that stops when I stop it. So I offer things that will calm her down, offer and walk away. Do not make eye contact! I wait until she looks for me in a calm manner, and not demanding. I needed to figure out why she wakes up so angry, and try to connect the dots.
The connections as to why she’s been waking up very irritable from her naps:
Lately she has been napping very late. She usually naps early afternoon or a little later. But I’ve realized when she naps after 4 o’clock, I know she will definitely wake up in a bad mood. The goal is for toddlers to wake up while the sun is up. Waking up when it’s dark and the sun is setting has affected her mood. So the plan now is to put her down to nap early. No toys, tv or anything distracting about an hour before she should nap.
I’ve only realized this with myself that also opened my eyes that it may be what is affecting her sleep also. When adults wake up with a dry mouth and dehydrated, we tend to be more moody and feel very sluggish during our morning routine. So, I make sure she stays hydrated before her nap, drinking plenty of water and milk. Also, sleeping with a full tummy results in a deeper and longer sleep, so I make sure she sleeps full. These all definitely helped improve her sleep and her mood.
High Sugar Intake
I’m usually very cautious about the amount of sugar in Rudeena’s diet . But there is no doubt that when she’s had a little too much sugar, she crashes. Just like my caffeine crash! So, avoiding sugar in her diet, in general, is definitely a goal.
These are all things I have seen first hand affect toddlers behavior and mood. With a good nap, we know they will enjoy the rest of the day. A happy toddler=happy mama!