I took Atticus to story time literally for the 1st time ever. Now this is totally out of my element and I honestly hate going to things like this… just my own neurosis, but I went because I want him to socialize and I thought it would be fun for him. What happened once we got there literally traumatized me and I feel like I can never go back! Atticus has the most epic meltdown, screaming throwing himself to the floor, dead weight when I tried to pick him up, hitting me and screaming…! While everyone else’s kids sat well behaved and calm, just glaring at us. I could not run home fast enough! I had him in one hand screaming and hitting me while I pushed the stroller in the other sprinting towards my front door. I kicked it in, pulled the blinds down and sat in the dark rocking back and forth… MORTIFIED!
After that incident, I had to rethink my whole gameplan when it comes to managing and disciplining behavior like this. Honestly, Atticus has us eating out of the palm of his hands… and he knows it. We needed to regain control as the parents and that meant a bit of tough love.
One of the things that occurred to us was that his pacifier usage might be delaying his willingness to speak and communicate in other ways besides crying and fussing when he wants something. So we decided to go cold turkey and take the pacifier away from Atticus. We were prepared for the transition to totally suck for a few days. But to our surprise what we discovered was that since Atticus was no longer looking for the pacifier at night, he slept much better, in fact through the night for the 1st time!! It was glorious!! Atticus was also much better rested and woke in a better mood, I feel bad for not doing this sooner because he really struggled at night and I can imagine he felt constantly tired which would naturally make him fussy.
The day Atticus threw that tantrum…we will call it Tantrum-Gate from now on, was the 1st time where I exercised what I felt was extreme discipline. I took him upstairs, he was still in the throes of his tantrum, and I put him in his crib, closed the door, and walked away. I turned on the baby monitor and I went to the backyard so I would not cave hearing him cry. He screamed. It was hard. It broke my heart. After about 30 minutes… he started to self-soothe. This is a big deal for us because previously we always ran to his rescue if he cried, scooped him up and cuddled him.
At nap times we would have to nap with him for him to fall asleep. As you can imagine that can be stressful and time-consuming, it literally can take a couple of hours! When Atticus had to calm himself down he ultimately put himself to sleep, that was a major step for all of us. We tried it again for bedtime and he cried for 15 minutes and fell asleep at 7:00 pm!! No more waiting for us to go to bed at random times at night, sometimes as late as 11 pm! We enjoyed our adult time with a glass of wine!
My point of all this is that the 1st step to discipline is getting your toddler on a regiment. He needs to know “what time it is”. Whether it’s lunchtime, bath time or nap time. If they know what to expect they are less likely to fight it. It will also help you as the parent to understand his moods and behaviors.
However, I say all this, but YOU as a parent have to be ready to take this step. People kept telling me that he might have to cry it out to learn to self-soothe and learn to sleep in his own bed, but I couldn’t do it! I had to hit my limit before I had enough, and Tantrum-Gate was my limit!
As for the public tantrums, I know they are going to happen and that they happen to all parents. Even though I felt embarrassed and judged, I’m sure every single parent in there was thinking “I feel you girl, this too shall pass!” We now remove Atticus from the situation immediately if he is pulling a Tantrum-Gate, and that might mean going home. And when we get home, he goes in his crib. This works for us because the discipline is consistent and he now knows it’s coming if he continues the behavior. If we are not close to home, he goes in his car seat and we get in the car. Again he knows what is going to happen when he decides to act up.
I’m sure once he is older, and we are able to communicate with each other better, this will change. We are 1st-time parents trying our best to raise a well behaved, grounded, empathetic and happy little boy.. it ain’t easy!!
Lastly, don’t be hard on yourself, I’ll be honest, I have had so many times where I just knew I was doing things all wrong with Atticus, that I’m failing as a mom, and that somehow I’m going to totally mess him up by not doing this or that, or too much of another. Kick that negativity in the ass because you deserve a trophy and a stiff drink cause parenting is the toughest and the greatest job you will ever have!
I’m so interested in hearing what works for other mommies and daddies! I am sooo open to all of your toddler War Stories! Please share in the comments below and may the odds be ever in your favor!!