Lockdown due to COVID-19 has affected us in so many ways. So much has been said already about the positive and negative aspects of lockdown and it’s good for our healing to keep the conversation going. For me, the hardest part of lockdown was handling my 2-year-old’s temper tantrums.
Temper tantrums at this age are normal and happen for different reasons. There are amazing techniques that you can use to handle temper tantrums. I’ll dig into this fascinating topic in another blog post. But for today, let’s just say that as a Play Therapist and an Early Childhood Educator, I know how to handle a temper tantrum. I know the why, the what and the how. But sometimes, as a mom, when everything going on around you has left you empty and you are feeling overwhelmed yourself, you just can’t deal with a 2-year-old temper tantrum. And that’s okay.
My message today is for all the moms, dads, caregivers and anyone else out there who has struggled with this. I have three words for you. Breathe, Acknowledge and Forgive.
I remember those toddler temper tantrums during lockdown. My son would throw himself on the floor, kick his feet, bang his fists and scream. And scream and scream. The first thing I told myself was to breathe. If you can do one thing, keep hold of one thing, just breathe. In and out – slow breaths. Don’t think about anything else in that moment. Just breathe. I remember looking at my child and thinking that he looked like someone who had completely lost control of his emotions and logical thinking. And that’s because he had. His brain was in survival mode and he had no control over his actions. So, the only thing to do is breathe.
Once I had a good few deep breaths in, the second thing I told myself was: Acknowledge. Acknowledge and accept that both of us were not coping with lockdown. At the time I was a full-time working mom and wife, I had to juggle online meetings with raising a toddler and keeping a house tidy while also emotionally supporting my husband. I had almost nothing left to give. My son was dealing with not being at school, not seeing his teacher or friends, not having his parents’ attention when he needed it and his routine was completely out the window. I told myself to acknowledge and accept the tears – yours and his. This is where you are at right now. Things are not good, and that’s okay.
The next word I tried to tell myself, but as a mom with high standards for my own behaviour, it was not easy for me to do. Forgive yourself. Be kind to yourself. It’s okay that you are not coping, it’s okay that you did not handle that temper tantrum the way that you should have. It’s okay that your own emotions were so overwhelming that you lost your temper yourself and you ended up joining your child in their meltdown. It happens. We are human. Lockdown took it all out of me and I’m sure it was the same for you too. Forgive. And then pick yourself up and try to do better next time.
This pandemic will come to an end and things will get better. The toddler temper tantrum phase will pass and although we don’t always get this parenting thing right, it will all be okay. Well, this is what I tell myself, anyway.