Yesterday morning started out like all other mornings. I awoke to Ava calling for Mama from her crib which promptly woke Liam. As I shuffled to Ava’s room I could here Liam stirring and knew soon the request for warm milk and brown sugar (oatmeal) would be coming. Once my husband and I got through the morning rush of getting the kids what they needed and letting the dog out my husband had to run out for an appointment.
The kids and I went downstairs to watch Team Umizoomi and Ava got upset with me about letting Liam pick the first show and hit me. I gave Ava a warning saying if she hit me again she would have to go into time out. Ava hit me and I put her in time out. This isn’t a recurring event still Ava has been put in time out before. However, this specific incident sent her into a meltdown of epic proportions.
You see Liam and Ava both have had their fair share of temper tantrums, but their ways of dealing with it are so very different. Liam’s outbursts are not as often and due to his age much easier to reason with him. Even when we was younger, if you took the approach of ignoring the tantrum, he would quickly pull himself together and then explain what was upsetting him. However, with Ava it is very different. Sometimes her tantrums seem to come out of nowhere and once she begins there is no quelling it. No words of comfort, cradling, and attention will soothe her. In fact, the only way to calm her is to let her escalate herself to such a frantic hysterical state it eventually tires her out and then looks for soothing. As a mother this is not only very upsetting to observe, but it is also very draining. These episode can last up to 40 minutes long and I sit helplessly by as she demands for certain things (glass of milk) and then right away refuses it. Liam sometimes comes in and tries to do his part as well. He will try to hug Ava or even make her laugh. There have been a few occasions where this actually has helped, but for the most part Liam usually leaves the room saying that Ava is being too loud.
I have talked to a couple of professionals regarding this and it seems that the general consensus is that this is very typical toddler tantrum behavior. Even though that is reassuring to know in those moments of helplessness it is very hard to see past it. This particular tantrum lasted 35 minutes. When it ended I had Ava in my lap rocking her. Once she was calm she crawled down and joined her brother in playing. Most of the time during these tantrums I stay super calm, speaking in a soothing voice while trying to create a calming environment for her (soft music playing, dimmed lights, warm milk).
Unfortunately, yesterday I did not deal with it so well. I lost my temper and as soon as I did I felt terrible. In the midst of Ava’s tantrum I noticed that her pull up was leaking and was leaving wet marks on the wooden hallway floor. I quickly cleaned up and knew I had to change Ava. This riled her up even more. Screaming and kicking Ava was not letting me remove the diaper or put a new one on. Many may think just let her stay in the oversaturated diaper. However, unless I was going to follow her around with a mop until the tantrum was over she was getting the floors wet. So there I was with her on her changing table kicking and screaming and I was struggling to get the new pull up on when I just snapped and yelled, “Ava will you just please let me put this diaper on you!” She paused for a moment stunned and then screamed and kicked even harder. Now not only had I just lost my patience, but I just made the situation worse. Shortly after that she began to unwind and I rocked her until my husband got home.
In typical mommy fashion I have replayed this scenario in my head multiple times. I am constantly trying to think of new ways to calm her faster and now this time I have the added bonus of berating myself for snapping at her. As I have heard from many people, “this too shall pass”, and although I know that that is true, right now it does not give me much comfort nor help. I just hope I can come up with Mommy/Ava solution so I can help her through this easier and I will not lose my sanity.