The 5 Stages Of The Dreaded Temper Tantrum

A toddler wronged is a mighty force indeed and will not care who they are bumping into as they rage.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

So I have been out of the temper tantrum stage for a while now. Thank goodness! But I'm starting to wonder if having a teenager will be similar to the toddler stage in some ways. Please parents of teenagers, tell me I'm wrong! So I figured I better brush up on what I see as being the five stages of a temper tantrum, toddler style!

1. The calm before the storm.

So you're in the store. You're blissful. You're feeling peaceful. You're shopping as your toddler smiles cutely at passers by and points at random things you see in the aisles. Life doesn't get much better than this. But wait for it... This is the calm before the storm and folks, the storm is pretty much inevitable. So why do we relax and become complacent and even think for a moment that we might get out of this shopping trip unscathed? I guess because hope springs eternal in the human heart and we think maybe, just maybe we are growing out of the tantrum stage. Nope. Here comes the standoff.

2. The standoff

So the standoff can be over anything. Staying in the cart, standing in the cart, buying a treat, the fact that they are desperately clinging to a random box of baking soda that you happened to brush too close to with the cart.

It doesn't really matter what it is, when the standoff happens, if you can't quickly provide an enticing distraction, then one of you is going down. And let's hope it's the toddler this time. This is the point where you have a decision to make.

Am I going to take a stand over this? Is it worth it? Sometimes it's wise to pick and choose your battles and sometimes it's time to put your foot down so it could go either way. But if you put your foot down, then proceed to step number three.

3. The point of no return.

So you've said no to the baking soda. We have three boxes at home. Now what? Well the moment you say no, you've hit the point of no return. This will escalate. And quickly. People will stare. And judge. Well, hopefully not. Anyone who's had a toddler will avert their eyes and say under their breath "thank goodness it isn't me this time." I know that I personally am always thinking "you've got this, mama!" when I walk past a tantruming child with their mom. But some people will judge. Usually the non-parent types who are experts in child rearing, of course.

Your little one may start off with some quieter complaining in this stage, some shouts of "no" and some very tight gripping of said baking soda as you try to remove it and place it back in its place of honour on the shelf. Kids don't really care what they are fighting over, they are just here to test your will and once you give in they could care less about the dang baking soda.

But in that moment, they would give up their binky or their favourite blanket just for a chance to cuddle that box of dry goods for one moment longer. So as you try to wrench the box away from their hot little hands, and their cries become increasingly louder, the panic within you starts to rise. Are we heading for a tantrum? Oh yes... Yes we are. You are about to proceed to dreaded step four. Fasten your seatbelts and hang on. It's going to be bumpy.

4. The tantrum.

So in this step there is back arching, shrill high-pitched shrieks, blood-curdling screams, kicking, stomping and if they are not in the cart at this point they may be lying on their back looking very much like their own little fidget spinner. What can you do at this point? Hmm... Get out of the way? Yes I would definitely say get out of the way.

A toddler wronged is a mighty force indeed and will not care who they are bumping into as they rage. If you have a little "tantrum in progress" sign in your purse, you could always set that up nearby to warn others to give this aisle a wide berth. And now, unless you want to abandon your full cart of groceries and carry them out, you wait.... And wait. Ugh. And wait. And eventually they will tire themselves out and they will be ready to see reason again which brings us to step five.

5. The other side.

So you've made it through the tantrum and here you are on the other side. Feels good, doesn't it? Who am I kidding? It's so dang exhausting that all you probably feel is tired and ready to get the heck out of the store. The screams will turn to whimpers, the kicking will become sporadic and you will be able to hear the grocery store music playing once again. They might be ready for a little calm-down cuddle and some sympathy over the loss of their beloved baking soda.

These little beings experience big feelings and it's our job to help them come through to the other side. The side where they turn back into our adorable little cherub toddler with the smile that charms everyone they pass on the way to the checkout. One thing I've learned about toddlers over the years is that they don't hold grudges. Not even over baking soda. But having said that, it won't stop them from having another go at you next time over a can of creamed corn.

Also on HuffPost: