Tantrums, Meltdowns During Holidays
Question: Hi Sylvia, tell us more about yourself -
Sylvia: Hi everyone, I am Sylvia. I am a mother of 2 preschoolers, 5yo, 3yo, and I am expecting a baby coming next February.
When I am not parenting my kids, I am a parenting coach. I help busy, frustrated mummies to become calm and confident to handle their kids’ tantrums, meltdowns and misbehaviours.
Question: Is that why you started Ommummy?
Sylvia: I started Ommummy earlier this year because of my own experience.
2 years ago, I left my job to take on my full time role as a mum. I never thought I would have such a hard time because I have always been the easy going, patient friend/colleague who doesn’t really get angry over anything.
So things didn’t turn out the way I expected them to be.
I became angry, irritable and impatient with my kids. I hated who I became and no one seems to understand so I was lonely, depressed, miserable.
It was so bad I wanted to run away from my family.
That was the time when I started looking for answers from books, internet, parenting conferences, courses and it took me more than 1 year to discover and understand positive, mindful parenting.
After that, I become really passionate about this topic and started Ommummy to share my knowledge and experience from parenting 2 preschoolers under 3.
Question: I am so glad you have started ommummy! Love all your nugget sized tips and information on parenting! Let’s talk about tantrums! I realized my child has more frequent tantrums and meltdowns especially during this period. How would you look at that?
Sylvia: Yes, we would think that holidays, gatherings with family, having playdates will be so much fun and why would the little ones have more tantrums and meltdowns during this period. They should be happy, excited and enjoying all these moments. Sometimes I’ll talk about creating good vibes at home, and your children will be happier and they will cooperate better.
But the holiday tantrums and meltdowns work slightly differently. Some of the more common causes are:
- changes in routines
- overwhelm with holiday excitement and enthusiasm
- insufficient rest
- unfamiliarity with people and places
Changes in Routines
Kids need to know exactly what’s going on and what to expect which is why routines are very important in their lives. Routines help children to feel safe, develop life skills and build healthy habits.
Overwhelm with holiday excitement and enthusiasm
As children look forward to the gatherings, presents, playdates, they may get a bit too excited. This outburst can be overwhelming for our children.
Insufficient sleep or rest between gatherings can also cause more tantrums and meltdowns because our children may be overstimulated.
Unfamiliarity with people and places
Similar to changes in routines, new faces and places may cause anxiety in some kids because they don’t know what to expect and do.
Question: And how should we deal with them? Any quick tip?
Prepare your child in advance.
Let them know as much details as you can. You can first start with the usual routine, then followed by the order of events. For example, when you wake up, we are still going to have breakfast at home, then potty time and shower. After changing, we are heading out to grandma’s place where you will be meeting and playing with your cousins. We will be having lunch at Grandma’s house. We will leave at about 2pm and come home for your nap.
Some important details to include are:
- Who are the people they will be meeting - you can show your child pictures of your family or friends if your child has not met them.
- What are the activities planned - tell them if you are staying for lunch or dinner, if there will be gift exchange, play time or if you’re inviting friends over, there’ll be other kids coming over and play with your child’s toys.
- Where the gathering is going to be held - whether it’s a place where your child has ever been, or if you are inviting people to your place.
If you are visiting, you can remind your child to ask for the host’s permission before playing with their toys. Or if you are inviting, you can also set some rules e.g. there will be no toys/playing in the mummy’s bedroom.
Do keep the reminders or rules to a minimum because they wouldn’t be able to remember and you don’t want to be too rigid.
Bonus tip: if you are inviting friends with little ones over, you can ask your child if there are any toys that they don’t want to share, then you and your child can keep them away.
Even after much preparation, we can still expect things to not go so smoothly. Give yourself some grace and remember your child’s tantrums and misbehaviours don’t say anything about you as a parent.
Sometimes, in the presence of others, it may be difficult to stay calm. Just remember to pause, breathe and chant a mantra. I like to tell myself “My child is not giving me a hard time, my child is having a hard time. Connection before correction.”
Transitions / saying goodbye.
Even if your child is generally ok with transitions, be prepared that they may not cooperate during this holiday period. It is normal. After all, when you are having so much fun with your cousins and friends that you don’t meet so often, who wants to stop playing?
Here’s what you can do:
- Prepare them 5 minutes before transition or leaving. You can ask them to help you set the timer.
- When the timer goes off, calmly say: that’s the timer, come turn it off and let’s move on to dinner or let’s say bye bye to everyone
- If they resist, acknowledge their feelings. It can sound like this “I see you feel sad because it’s time to leave. It’s ok to feel sad. The timer went off and it’s time to stop playing. Would you like me to wear your shoes yourself or would you like me to help you?
Finally, expect the tantrums, embrace the meltdowns.
Don’t compare your child with other children, not even their siblings. Take deep breaths, tell yourself you are safe.
What is the mantra you live by?
I like to remind myself that “My child is not giving me a hard time, my child is having a hard time. Connection before correction.”
Question: What are the challenges you face running Ommummy and juggling kids and me-time for yourself? And on top of that, I see that you sometimes even do couple time away from kids!
My biggest challenge is time management. I have so many things I want to achieve for Ommummy but my priority right now is my kids. I am a perfectionist so I have to learn to let go of some self-expectations. I am also learning to slow down when I need to.
With my children, I have to be more mindful and intentional. I make sure to have undistracted, bonding time with them in the mornings so that they don’t start seeking attention in the wrong way. I’ll also take short breaks from my work or chores throughout the day to connect with them.
Ommummy is my passion project so that’s my me-time.
I am very fortunate to have supportive in laws to help me with my children, so I am able to do date nights with my partner once in a while.
Question: Do you have any advice for mothers who wants to pursue their aspirations, yet at the same time do not want to miss the precious growing years of their child.
My advice will be to just start on it. I think the hardest is the first step. Don’t worry about making mistakes because that’s how we learn and grow and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Always be mindful in what you’re doing. Be present in the moment. When you are with your kids, make sure you are with them physically and mentally.
Question: So what is next up for ommummy? Any exciting plan?
Kids can be unpredictable so if you need more tools and resources to help you keep your cool and manage your child’s big feelings, my parenting course, Mindful Parenting: for you and your child, offer simple, digestible, plans to help you ace your parenthood. You can register your interest with me personally, and you will receive a special promotion when we launch! (:
Written by Sylvia, @ommummy