Temper tantrums are one of the biggest downfalls of raising children. And there’s no way of bypassing it. It doesn’t matter if your child is the sweetest thing that ever came from the stars and clouds and was kissed on the head by a unicorn at birth. That kid is going to have an ear-splitting, level 20 tantrum at some point during their childhood. More than one. Guess who gets to figure out how to handle that? Oh ya, baby. You do. Isn’t it so exciting? Yeah. Sure, there are endless amounts of parenting books, online tips and motherly advice on the proper way to handle just about any tantrum.
The only thing is, it doesn’t always work. These tiny little creatures are trying to figure out the world of emotions and feelings going on inside those precious minds. And we, as parents have to figure out the right way to walk through it with them. And then, of course, figure out how to calm their crazy little butts down. Sometimes no parenting book in the world can solve what’s right for your child. The way I see it, there are so many wonderful suggestions, theories, and studies out there. But we’re all still figuring it out.
I read all kinds of books when I was pregnant and continued doing so when my first daughter was born. I took in all varieties of tips from what I witnessed through family, friends, and complete strangers on a daily basis. There’s a lot to admire out in the world, especially the unique ways each person handles the predictable and unpredictable when it comes to their kids. When it was my turn to take all I absorbed and give it a shot, I kept all my favorite parenting tips in mind. I also learned the importance of keeping true to what works for you and your own kids. Because there’s so much that’s not written in a book that goes on. And WOW, when it came to the tantrums, my kid knew how to throw them. And let me tell you, she would go from 0-100 in a millisecond. Half the time I couldn’t even figure out the reason why. I still try to remember some of the things that would set her off… and hmmm, nothing stands out. And oh my gosh, the things I tried. I attempted all of the favorite bits I kept from books, tried to recreate the things I saw from other parents. I even took in advice from people I didn’t care too much for. I seriously tried everything anyone ever recommended. Then I took a breath and forgot about anything I had ever heard, saw or read.
I shut all the books and tuned out all outside voices. Instead, I focused deeply on my kid, and on myself. When I did that, I looked at what facts I had in front of me. I knew my daughter. I knew she’s kind, incredibly observant, freakishly smart and has a wild appreciation for nature. I learned that putting her in a room when she’s trying to figure out her emotions and frustrations only confused her and fueled the fire. It didn’t matter how I tried to explain things to her. If I could see her getting heated up, there needed to be a change of scenery and it needed to be fast. So one day, mid-tantrum flare up, I glanced out my window, the same one I would always catch her gazing out of that led to our garden. It gave me an idea. That’s a space she adores, it’s a space where she thrives and also somewhere she was always calm. I tried everything else at that point, so allowing her to work through her frustrations in a safe space that wasn’t enclosed by walls seemed like a pretty good shot. To my relief and hers, it worked. She had her own little watering can, gloves and a shovel. So when she would turn into Little Miss Crazy Pants, she would head into the garden.
From this experience, she would sing to the flowers and water the plants. She would dig holes and plant seeds. She would work through her emotions and found her own special way that worked right for her. And I felt so much better when we found a solution. It created space for her to calm down enough for us to talk about feelings and how to cope with them. That was so special and important. The million other things I tried just never clicked, but this did. It really did. It ended up being how she would start and end her day. The first thing she’d do is check on her garden and each night she would make sure all of her garden tools were put away as she said goodnight to her plants.
She continued to go out there during her frustrations. She would power stomp like a wild woman and then, sure enough, you would hear her humming as she calmed down. It was obvious this was a therapy for her, and a healthy one. Even if we would go out of town, the first thing she would look for is a garden to spend time in. Although temper tantrums during childhood are hardly avoidable, the availability of options to cope with it, are there. I am thankful for any advice anyone has ever given me. But even more thankful I did what was best for my daughter. And in exchange for some massive tantrums, we had one beautiful garden.