Time for Tantrums

A few weeks ago now both my children decided, uncharacteristically, to completely melt down at a toddler group we've attended for more than two years.

At the same time.

It was horrific.

Ollie started with an epic tantrum about not wanting to put cars down for tidy up time. Then Lily joined in because she didn't want to put her shoes and jumper on. A walk, bus ride and home time later, they were both still at it. Tag teaming the screaming and shrieking at everything.


I have no idea. Perhaps they were under the weather. Maybe they were overwhelmed with the excitement of Christmas. Perhaps they were possessed.

I left the group struggling not to cry, as friends patted me on the back, offered me smiles and even wished me luck. As the screaming continued down the street, flailing arms, protests and angry shouts I headed on to the bus stop. Enduring the stares, the shy smiles and kind words of passers by.

Then, at the bus stop. A lovely lady turned to me and said: "Terrible Twos? I remember those, they don't last forever"

I smiled back.

Through gritted teeth.

I didn't answer her. It would have just sounded rude if I corrected her and told her my daughter is 4.

Like 'morning' sickness. Classifying toddler tantrums as 'terrible twos' is incredibly misleading. 

For one, the tantrums can start way earlier than two. Coming out of the blue and erupting into an inferno of frustration and shock for both parent and child. 

Then, 'terrible' is a bit extreme. True, the tantrums are distressing and they come thick and fast as the children explore more and come across increasing struggles. But as far as two year olds go, they're far from terrible. I actually love this age.

And finally, it gives false hope that once the 'terrible twos' are past, the tantrums will subside and leave you with a little angel.

I thought I'd got through the twos pretty much unscathed. Lily has always been a tad highly strung. She has a wail like an air-raid siren, starting low and building towards a crescendo and she can start it without warning at the slightest hint of dissatisfaction. That said, I'm pretty used to it and she was actually an adorable two year old.

But then. She turned three. And I totally understand why I'd seen other Mum's lamenting about their 'three-nager'.

It wasn't just tantrums. It was tantrums with attitude. With opinions.

I can honestly say, I found three an awful lot harder than two.

Two was a walk in the park compared to three.

And four?

Is pretty good. But that doesn't mean an end to all tantrums. Tantrums are just a thing that happen to all children of all ages when the feelings, frustration and understanding become too much. It's not enjoyable but doesn't make being a parent 'terrible'. Not really.

Let's be fair. I still have tantrums. I'm 31 years old and there are still times when all I want to do is shout and stamp my feet. 99% of the time I can hold it in but then I find I have far more in common with my tantruming toddlers than I often think.

Terrible thirties? Can that still be a thing?
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