My Toddler's Tantrum Is Not My Fault (So There!)

Julie Ryan Evans

toddlerHear that gawking bystanders and judgmental old ladies? That tantrum my daughter is throwing in the middle of the store at decibels high enough to crack eggs is not my fault. Scientists even say so, and I may just print it out, have copies of their tantrum findings made, and pass them out during one of Lila Claire's little shows.

Michael Potegal, Ph.D., a pediatric neuropsychologist, recently told Parenting that tantrums are "as normal a biological response to anger and frustration as a yawn is to fatigue." (I will be highlighting that line, for sure.) He said kids are "hardwired to misbehave" and no amount of perfect parenting is going to thwart them all.

Potegal actually does research in this area and found that tantrums follow a typical pattern in general and last an average of about three minutes ... which is like three hours in humiliated parent time. Fortunately, once they're done, they're done and go back to life as normal, looking all cute and innocent again.

We're smack in the middle of Tantrumville, USA, here at our house. You never know what will set my 2-year-old off -- from me choosing to sing a song to just looking at her the wrong way. She's all sweetness and sunshine, and then BAM. She has a special propensity for throwing them while we're crossing the street. Not sure what it is about those walk signs that pisses her off, but I've scooped her off the asphalt more than one time.

I've tried bribes positive reinforcement, anticipating her needs, threats repercussions, and a host of other techniques, but still the tantrums persist. So while Potegal offers some suggestions for taming the tantrums, the thing I'm most grateful for is proof that there's really nothing I can be doing to prevent tantrums anyway. Now, I'm heading out to the copy center so I can share this news with those whose scathing looks indicate they believe otherwise.

How do you handle toddler tantrums?

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