We were having lunch out today when my 3 yo DD had a full blown meltdown. She likes to unwrap her straw by herself. While I was chattering with my MIL, I absentmindedly unwrapped DD's straw for her. This sent DD into an all out screaming/pushing tantrum (she tried to push me out of the booth we were sitting in.) I carried her outside so as not to disturb the other diners. I talked with her, telling her that I understood she was angry and why, and that it's ok to get angry, but screaming and pushing were not acceptable. She responded by saying, "yes scream! yes, push!" I asked her why and she said "it's how I get the angry out."
The light bulb turned on in my brain. While I don't want her to feel that she has to bottle up her emotions, I do want her to learn how to release negative emotion constructively, so I suggested that we find her an "angry toy", such as a stress ball that she could squeeze when she gets angry. DD agrees that this could be a good idea. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks in advance!
Hum...my first thought was that you should research "cathartic therapy" I think it's called. And you may well still want to look up this sort of therapy. But, I think a squeeze ball sounds like a great idea. You should be able to find these on line - or you could make something with a balloon and flour, maybe?
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Ah yes, the terrible threes (forget the twos - they've got nothing on 3 year olds). I tried something like that and it kind of backfired on me - he used it as a projectile and threw it across a restaurant and hit someone. ~faints from embarrassment~
I think you did absolutely the right thing. You removed her from the situation. You let her talk it out in her language. If pushing is what she needs, have her push on a wall. Talk to her, when she is not in full meltdown and not in a public place, about better ways to handle her emotions. She's a bit young to do this with but eventually you need to get to a place where you can have a conversation that would go like this...
You - I know you are mad. Mommy made a mistake and unwrapped your straw. I forgot how much you like doing that and I'm sorry. Do you thinking yelling in the restaurant was a good choice or a bad choice?
Her - bad choice?
You - hmmm what do you think you could have done to make it a good choice?
Her - either says I don't know or lists options. If she gives positive options support those, give positive feedback on them and give a big hug. If she doesn't know - offer her suggestions - both real and silly....
You - well, do you think you could have stood on your head?
Her - No mommy!
You - okay - do you think you could have reminded Mommy how much you like unwrapping the straws and ask for a different one?
Her - I guess so.
You - great - so what do you think will happen if Mommy makes that mistake again?
Next time, she'll probably have a meltdown again but it may not be as loud or as long. Eventually, she will learn the skills to stop, think and then react. Right now, at 3, she's going to react like a wounded animal - it's just the age I'm sorry to say.