When Your Child's Tantrums Are Out Of Control

by Alicia Mayer
Originally Published: 
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My son throws tantrums.

The kind that makes friends look away and hold their breath.

The kind that makes strangers stare and walk away quickly.

The kind that makes everyone in the family cry at the same time.

But I know that he isn’t a bad kid. He’s exhausting and complicated and particular. He’s strong willed and persistent and intelligent. He’s kind and funny and sweet. And I am the luckiest person in the world to be his mama.

It’s not easy raising a stubborn two-year-old. But in my heart, I know that all of his big personality traits are what will one day make him an incredible man. I see his dedication when we’re 45 minutes into a meltdown. I see his persistence when he runs out of his room for the fifth time instead of napping. I see his compassion when he’s finally able to calm himself down and apologize for knocking down his sister.

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Helping him through this developmental phase has been the most exhausting part of his little life so far. It’s all encompassing and draining for both of us. The tantrums are frequent, long and Level 10/10. Some mornings I start putting out “tantrum fires” at 6:00 am and don’t stop until 8:00 pm. But that’s what he needs from me and that’s what I’m going to do. Because the little boy who was throwing shoes and screaming at the top of his lungs 15 minutes ago is now the little boy sitting on my lap asking our pet fish if he’s having a good day. The little boy who was screaming in the middle of the store is now the same little boy who quietly sits in the car and asks me, “What makes you happy, Mommy? Cars, trains or fire engines!?”

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My son has a larger than life personality, a lot of new emotions, and only two and a half years on this earth. It’s not always pretty. There are tears, and locked doors, and screams and deep breaths (so many deep breaths) but we’re going to navigate this one day at a time. We’re going to somehow get through this strange, difficult time together. And when we do, we’ll look back with a sigh of relief and also a huge sense of accomplishment. Because he and I need each other. We’re teaching each other patience, awareness and vulnerability. We’re learning things we never knew about each other, or even about ourselves.


The tantrums are bad, and the meltdowns are severe. But he’s still my sweet, sweet boy and I love him through the tears, the screams, and the fights. And I know I’m not alone in this. There are countless other exhausted mamas out there who are doing the same thing. They’re getting through day by day — learning to cherish the gentle moments and to navigate through the awful ones. I’m sure there are better days ahead, just as I’m also sure that another epic tantrum is right around the corner.

So to the strangers who try to distract and help, I thank you.

To the other moms who politely ignore us without passing judgement, I appreciate you.

And to the people who criticize or look upon us with shame or criticism … well, screw you.

Motherhood is not an easy job, but just remember that we are so very lucky to have it. Even through the tantrums.

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