Oliver beauty

Don’t be fooled by those eyes!

Photograph ©Peter Broadbent

I understand that the tantrumming, moments of mad frustration, yelling, kicking and pinching are all par for the course for a terrible two year old ‘undergoing the change’: the tumultuous  journey towards independence. But what of the sanity of the 31 year old mother?

You know the drill, child wants a chocolate rabbit (lovingly stacked at every counter in Waitrose-why Waitrose, why?) and on refusal, lays flat on the floor, red faced, kicking legs and screaming for good measure that he “needs a rabbit”. In Waitrose. The Chanel of all supermarkets. No use reasoning with the maniac (believe me, I’ve tried before and it serves no purpose but to fuel the screams) so I stand, packing my bags, allowing him to get over the worst before distracting him (usually with his favourite YouTube video on my iPhone: ‘Ten Green Bottles’).

Head down, I ignore the multiples of eyes burning through me, judging, and the sympathetic smile of the cashier and I move on, quickly. Very quickly. I wonder when the time will come when I no longer care. No doubt as these tantrums become more frequent and I’m utterly desensitised to them.  Perhaps when I become that woman in the ad who starts tantrumming herself in the aisles in reaction to her child. Yep. One day, that will be me.

Tantrums at home are an easier animal- we have the naughty step or the porch he must sit in and calm down (on the third warning) but in a shop-you can’t start disciplining in public, can you?

I hate shouting at Oliver but have found myself doing so more often and end up feeling truly rubbish afterwards. His tantrums are not daily thank goodness and the plus side of his burgeoning independence is his love of cleaning (yes really) and our hilarious conversations involving “scary helicopters up in the sky”, “tractors that are very, very big Mama” and his loving compliments of me: “Mama you are gorgeous” followed by lots of kisses.

I love how we cook fish pie together, bake chocolate tortes, water the daffodils and pick fresh mint from the garden. He’s no longer a baby and it’s a joy to see him growing up. But the bad days, sheesh they can be bad.

So I beg, have you any tips to help me deal with my mental little ‘Mitchell brother’? Valium? Losing myself in Lindt chocolate? A short term adoption plan-child to be returned aged 3 or whenever this ‘phase’ is over? Any takers? Didn’t think so.

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28 Responses

  1. Charlotte

    I don’t have any tips as Bob is only 9 months so I am yet to experience this. I maybe able to provide some therapy though. Take a look at Terrible Twosday on my site. Even though Bob is only 9 months she is providing me with lits of material. Now when something awful happens, instead of getting stressed I reach for the camera. Makes tantrums seem much more fun! ;o)

    • honestmum

      Thanks Charlotte, will take a look. Loving your and Uju (comment below)’s idea of filming-great tool for manipulation in the future too!

  2. Kate

    Oh bless him he’s gorgeous hun. I have found the naughty step to work wonders even when I am out and about. It took me a while to realise the realise it wasn’t working initially was because I wasn’t ready to let it work. I wasn’t strong enough to make it work and follow through with the threats and stand outside in the rain with Youngling until he apologised, held my hand and continued on behaving. Yes this sounds extreme but I tried lots. I agree distraction can work in defusing a smouldering tantrum but once erupted the tantrum needs disciplining. Good luck xx

    • honestmum

      @Kate sound advice and you are right, I need to follow through and am totally standing my ground that he apologises and is disciplined fairly. He has to sit in the porch until he calms down and says sorry. So far, working well.

  3. Babes about Town

    Oh he could get away with anything with those eyes! I feel you girlfriend, even though my toddler isn’t nearly as bad at this stage as Ezra was in his mega-stroppy 2s and 3s phase… we all have those moments. I’ve even found myself videoing E having a tantrum on the floor in a shop – hey, sometimes you need the distraction for yourself so you don’t LOSE IT properly in public. Plus, showing the video to him when he’s back to sanity is a good prompt for a chat.

    Of course O’s a little young for fully talking it through but remember, this too shall pass. It really shall. And in the meantime there’s always vodka 😉

    • honestmum

      What a brilliant idea-filming him. You are so right too-no point losing it in the supermarket (unless they’ve run out of chocolate mousse right)? So need vodka in my life but circumstances won’t allow. I’m thinking ice cream substitute? Not the same I know!

  4. writeonmum

    Oh my! My youngest is now 12 and with a 16 and 18 year old as well, I’m well and truly into the teenage tantrums rather than the toddler ones! But your post really takes me back to those supermarket tantrums with a toddler – I think it’s all pot luck as to how they are resolved at the time and how quickly – if they even are resolved. Sometimes you just gotta tune out sister! And yes, chocolate – bunny shaped – helps. Good luck. xx

    • honestmum

      @writeonmum thank you! Wow teenage tantrums sound bad too and if they are going to be anything like my teen years, I have serious comeback coming my way xx

  5. julesey10

    LOL I was like u. Liked to see what I’m buying! I go to little green grocers for my fruit and veg and C behaves in there as I can buy him grapes when we go in and he eats them while I choose what I want. The girl there knows to wash them fast for me to ward off the screams. :/ roll on school. Lol xx

    • honestmum

      @Julesey10 that is so cute and you get the best of both worlds. Seriously taking a leaf out of your book-or a grape! x

  6. julesey10

    Two words. ‘Online shopping’ 🙂 I eventually gave up with Caleb and now darling tesco man brightens our friday mornings. Supermarkets seem to turn the most angelic child into the omen child! Too many things to want, too much distraction and generally TOO MUCH for me! :/
    I’d love to say it passes, but erm yeh, no it doesn’t. Madam at 14 just talks loudly and embarasses me if she wants something which C 3 just hollers like a banshee. My supermarket days are over!!!!! With No 3 I refuse to set foot in the places ever! Xx

    • honestmum

      @julesey10 Haah you are definately on to something. Peter loves internet shopping but actually like to choose my fruit and veg and until now enjoyed the experience. Think I need to start ordering online now x

  7. mother.wife.me

    I never raise my voice (during a tantrum, I have been known to when a certain mini someone is just being damned annoying… ahem). If we are at home, I tend to just leave her too it, tell her she can come for a cuddle when she’s ready, then I leave the room.

    If I see a tantrum coming on, then distraction can often head it off at the pass.

    Out and about, not really got into out of house tantrums yet. No idea why, certainly not due to any genius parenting skills on my part. Had one in the park a few months back, I just picked her up and carried her home. Luckily husband was with us, so didn’t have to deal with the ‘shame’ on my own!!

    Let us know how you get on…

  8. EmmaK

    I don’t want to be a harbinger of gloom but my eight year old is still a huge handful and like you I end up screaming and ended up feeling terrible. My eight year old does not do tantrums but is just very disobedient and even if I threaten her with no chocolate for life she doesn’t give a fig!

    Re toddler tantrums the only bit of advice I can give is I knew this – admittedly terrible – mum who always wore earplugs with her toddler “so I don’t have to listen to his tantrums”!! You could hide them under your long hair!

  9. Grenglish

    We are going through the same stage at the moment too! Tantrums over the smallest thing but usually teeth brushing. He does not think he should have to brush them/I do. Neither one of us budges. He tantrums on the floor, kicking and screaming. Eventually, I open the negotiations… I know it is a slippery slope to go down!
    Good luck to you, if you find something that works please do let me know!

    • honestmum

      @Grenglish thank you very much. Believe me, he gets ugly when he tantrums! haha. Some great suggestions here from Mums. Loving the earplugs one-Boots should do a two for one!

  10. Ruth

    Reading this reminded me of the time my mum described walking into Tesco and hearing a child having an almighty tantrum. Chuckling to herself that it was nothing to do with her, she turned the corner only to see her daughter (me) standing watching her granddaughter thrashing about on the floor screaming blue murder. Oh dear.

    My daughter had terrible tantrums and my plan of action was either to let it pass or remove her from the area. So if we were out, I’d usually just pick her up and take her to the car or outside. Sometimes the change of scene would be enough to distract her from whatever the problem was. There were lots of abandoned shopping trips though!

    Now she is a teenager it is a little like how she behaved as a tantruming toddler but she’s almost as big as me and has a larger vocabulary. Do make a note of what works with your son as I spent a long time trying to remember back to what worked in my daughter’s toddler stage so I could re-use it in her teens.

    Each difficult stage is so fleeting (although it doesn’t feel like it at the time!) and is soon replaced by the lovely moments 🙂

    • honestmum

      @ruth thanks for your advice and that is a few funny scene-the three generations brought together in a while of tantrumming!

  11. Jo

    Beautiful boy 🙂

    I’ve had 5 toddlers and on to number 6 now (my last), who although is only 14 months is just starting to discover tantrums !
    Distraction and making them laugh always helps me out, that and carrying emergency snacks.

    • honestmum

      ‘Jo thank you-wow 6 toddlers-there has got to be a prize for you or a Blue Peter badge at the very least! Emergency snacks have been purchased today. Raisin anyone?

  12. Morgan Prince

    I love this post and I’m sure it resonates with every mother out there! Even if they haven’t reached that stage yet, they know what’s coming. I also have a 2 yr old and the tantrums can be bad. On those bad days I tend to have a glass (or two) of wine : )
    The most annoying thing about the ‘terrible twos’ stage is that it doesn’t really end. The tantrums turn into arguments and eventually they just ignore you. My 7 yr old is almost at the ignoring stage, he often sneaks things into his bedroom so that he can play instead of sleep.
    Like you said, those good days are the best. I think we just have to cherish those days. : )

  13. icklebabe

    Aw hun, i am sending understanding hugs.
    Milsta isn’t too bad, but Ellie (my first) actually made me cry on a daily ( sometimes hourly ;)) basis!
    Its so hard, especially in public, but your doing the right thing. I made the mistake of giving into Ellie early on, and it just made things so much worse!!!
    My granddad had a great saying it is ” Don’t say no to often, but when you do, mean it”
    I try and live by that !
    Wish i could come over with chocolate ( and wine;)) but im sending victual ones 😉 and remember, DO NOT beat yourself up, its rarely anyone’s fault, some kids are much more spirited than others, and Teen Ellie is an amazing kid now, never had any teen problems with her. So maybe Oliver is getting it all out of his system early 😉 x

    • honestmum

      @icklebabe thank you so much for your wise words, you’ve made me feel a million times better. Let’s hope Oliver is getting it out sooner rather than later and it would be wonderful if we overcome this phaze before number 2 arrives! xx

  14. Alexander residence

    Vicki the answer is buried in your post, distraction! Time out fails miserably for us this time round, but for strong willed creative types I find distraction works every time. You can always look back at my guest post on creative toddler taming 😉
    Or if you can (obviously not in Waitrose) walk away and ignore. ESP effective if you pick up a magazine, or do something completely for yourself.
    Only thing that worked for me in supermarkets was feeding him or having silly little mega distracting toys in my bag. But most the time I was so embarrassed I forgot both these tricks. You tube/apps are a lifesaver aren’t they!
    He’s gorgeous and love your description of the fun you have xx

    • honestmum

      @Alexander thank you so much-yes your creative toddler taming poat is amazing and I will have to re read it asap. Distraction really is the key isn’t it. He is one stubborn little boy too so those moods swings are hard to crack. I like the idea of feeding him so will be burying packets of raisins into my bag and more toys for the supermarket tantrum sweeps I’m experiencing. Thanks for the support xx


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