When my daughter turned 2, a discerning parent told me,
“Congrats, and brace yourself for the Terrible-Twos!”
I smirked at the well-wishes of a far more experienced person. I thought, so far parenting has been a breeze except meal times. I didn’t see how a number could affect it. Then things like these started to happen –
It was as if she transformed from a generally genial and gentle baby girl to a tantrum-throwing temperamental diva! I was flummoxed, me being a First time Mom. I tried cajoling, then offering something else, then shouting then plain ignoring, none of which seemed to help her nearly hourly tantrums. My MIL suggested distraction, but that seemed to help only in some cases. Mostly we would have to just let her cry her lungs out. But that meant cranky parents, cranky baby and cranky neighbours. We were clueless.
I spent hours online trying to learn how to handle toddler tantrums, because no ‘neighbourly’ advice seemed to help (I stay in an area surrounded by the elderly who needed their sleeps, both in the nights and the afternoons. They haven’t seen a baby in the area in decades and mine comes with her own charms and harms). There were as varied suggestions as the number of hair on my head. Some sites however wisely pointed out that toddlers at this age begin developing personalities of their own. That they start experiencing, developing and exhibiting many of the emotions that they see in adults. They begin to show emotions like love, pride, guilt, shame, sorrow from the age of 12 months onwards. Likewise, they also begin to understand the importance of ‘No‘. They come to learn that its not just a word that Mommy and Daddy can use, but they can too. That’s when you see protests and tantrums occurring.
Bleakly, I recalled my psychology class lessons on Freud’s theory that the mind is ruled by the Id, Ego and Super-ego and that these three are in constant conflict with each other. Babies, Freud proposed, are always ruled by their Id instincts – demands of having their basic needs met with. As the baby grows, their Id instincts come into conflict with their Ego – the stage where an understanding develops that instant gratification is not always desirous or possible. But this tussle between the Id and the Ego in a growing baby often creates strains in the mind, which I realised, are exhibited in the form of tantrums.
So, you might ask,
“How does that help in controlling her tantrums?”
The answer is,
All it does help with is creating an awareness in the parents that this struggle between toddler desires, their pride & protestations, and parents’ attempts of controlling them will slowly be resolved when their understanding of their surroundings and human interaction develops.
For now, I just enjoy the sight of her cute face when she pouts, stamps her foot, and shouts, ‘NO!!!’, everytime I offer her food instead of candies; or I just try to reason with her that she cannot have things her way all the time; or I just let her roll on the floor and let her have her meltdown till she herself gets distracted by something else. Afterall, the Terrible-Two’s won’t last forever…Hopefully!
©Pradita Kapahi, 2016
Picture Credits: https://pixabay.com and Pradita Kapahi.