Thursday, July 25, 2013

Emerald's Tantrum Spot

 Right around Emerald's first birthday, she started throwing tantrums. Not sad or frustrated meltdowns, but full blown, angry, kicking, screaming, SHRIEKING, throwing herself backwards, hitting her head against the floor kind of tantrums, usually directly after telling her something like "we don't play with knives", "it's not safe to climb up the bookshelf" or "sorry, it's raining, we can't play outside right now." These tantrums would last up to 30 or 45 minutes. If I tried to get close to hug her, hold her or nurse her, she'd fight against me, hit me, pull my hair, scratch me, smack me in the face...I knew it was getting out of control. I was worried for her safety since she was so violent about it, and since the tantrums lasted SOOO long and happened several times a day, I was worried for me and Mercedes' sanity. So, Emerald's Tantrum Spot was created.

It's basically the baby version of Mercedes' Chill Spot. At 14 months, she's not old enough to talk about her feelings or help me come up with a better solution. This spot is simply a safe, well padded area where she can kick and thrash around and bang her head against the floor without hurting herself or any of us. And she likes it. She willingly stays there through her tantrum, and as soon as her fit has gone from shrieks of anger to calmer sobs, she comes and finds me (I stay close enough where she knows I haven't left her, but far enough away that my presence doesn't fuel her anger) and gives me a hug and we cuddle and nurse until she's her sunny, smiley self again.

Since I created this spot for her, her tantrums have gone from lasting 30-45 minutes to lasting about 5-10 minutes, and they've gone from several times a day to maybe a couple times a week. I think having a special place to go when she's angry helps her to control her emotions and also realize that it's not acceptable to run around screaming and shrieking all over the house whenever she doesn't get her way. Similar to Mercedes' Chill Spot, Emerald's Tantrum Spot is not meant to be a punishment for her tantrums, but a safe and contained place for her to have her tantrums until she's ready for me to help her calm down. And like Mercedes' Chill Spot, I do not leave her there unless she wants to be there alone. I am always willing to sit there with her unless my presence is fueling her anger.

 She loves her spot. She comes here often to relax, cuddle stuffed animals and baby dolls and read stories. It is a safe, peaceful and happy place for her.

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