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3 under 3: mini meltdown

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3 under 3

Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This week Amy talks about when her littlest one threw her first proper, spectacular tantrum...


'One of the girls threw a massive tantrum the other day. Screaming, crying, throwing herself to the floor. It was a sight to behold and lasted a good 10 minutes until peace was restored. Not that unusual with not-quite-3-year-olds though, is it? They're still asserting their independence, still under the influence of the terrible twos. Well, yes, but this tantrum didn't come courtesy of an angry twin, it was the work of 13-and-a-half-month-old M.

As I've mentioned before, M has been a little bit of a handful of late - screaming, sobbing, contorting - but those are just simple bursts of anger. This was different. This was her first proper tantrum. She woke up from her nap a little bit early, so was a bit grumpy. Like her sisters before her used to, she only has a dummy to sleep, and usually with a bit of distraction, it's easy to retrieve. Not this time. I extracted the dummy and drew M's attention to a book. All seemed to be going well. But as the minutes wore on, it was obvious she was still tired. And we all know where tiredness leads. The tears started. She looked at me pitifully, her big blue eyes pleading with me and she gestured up to the bookcase and said, over and over: ‘Dum dum. Dum dum.'

‘No honey,' I said gently. ‘Dummy's only for sleep. Shall we build something with the blocks?'

The face dropped, lip quivered...and the screaming began. I tried getting her sisters involved. Obviously as keen as me to make the bawling stop, they delivered teddies and toys and cuddles. But M would not be moved. Now I had a dilemma. She wasn't hurt, she wasn't scared, she hadn't been pushed around or hard done by. If G or T were throwing a strop like this, they'd be told to go and do it elsewhere and be ignored until they calmed down. But you can't really reason with a 1-year-old, so I had to just cajole, distract and hope my ears survived the onslaught.

G and T soon saw sense and decamped to the playroom. Traitors. M stopped screaming long enough to watch them go, then looked up at me, searching my face for any sign that I'd relent, and - realising the ‘dum dum' wasn't being considered - flung herself dramatically to the floor and resuming bawling. When I tried to pick her up, she did the classic arm-lift and squirmed out of my grasp. Fearing a head injury when she hit the floor, I gave up on any kind of calming hugs and did all I could do. I waited. When the sobs finally slowed to sniffles, I tried again: ‘Look, baby, Where The Wild Things Are...'

Red-eyed and defeated, she slowly, resentfully, toddled over. She allowed herself to be placed on my lap...and by the time Max had left The Wild Things and gone home for his supper, M's sisters had returned and she was laughing again. While they all got on with a game of chase, I sat back, caught my breath and tried to take in what had just happened. Surely it's too soon for all this? I remember G and T having horrid, shriek-filled, soul-destroying tantrum phases of their own, but they were at least 18 months old.

The following day, I relayed the whole thing to my mum. After she stopped laughing and gloating about ‘karma', she pointed something out. M walked earlier than her sisters, she said her first word earlier, developed language earlier. Why should this be any different? M has picked everything up so fast because she has 2 role models to copy and desperately want to be. And she's seen a fair few meltdowns in that time. Looking at it from her point of view, if G and T can have tantrums, why can't she? If they can scream the house down, why shouldn't she have a go? So I'm just going to have to teach her that that's not how things work. The twins don't get what they want by throwing a wobbly, and neither will she. Returning that dummy would have made my life so much easier right then, but I know in the long-run I did the right thing. She might be my baby, but she's growing up fast, and that comes with its downsides. For both of us. I can but hope that this is just another challenging but brief toddler phase.

Now, where can I buy myself a pair of earplugs?'


Have you find it hard dealing with your kids' tantrums? Tell us about your experiences in our comments section below or on Facebook.

Continued below...


Amy's other blog posts... 

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