I thought my 6-year-old was done with tantrums. She often helps me through her 3-year-old brother’s frequent meltdowns and continues to surprise and impress me with random moments of maturity. Yet, there her father and I were on a recent Sunday evening, watching our 60-pound daughter scream, cry, and violently flail her body around because she didn’t want to leave the party we were at to head to her much-loved grandma’s house and attend the nearby camp she’d been looking forward to for months. I was at a loss for how to respond.
My son’s tantrums are equally volatile and irrational, but he’s a toddler, and having gone through his older sister’s tumultuous toddlerhood, I know what to expect and how best to react (depending on the situation, ignore him, give him time and space to settle himself down, treat him kindly, wrestle him into his car seat . . . you get the picture). How to deal with a child who’s old enough to bathe herself, pack her own backpack, and read independently is harder to figure out, and her tantrums, while not as frequent as her brother’s, were definitely starting to become a pattern.
Was I expecting too much from her? Not anticipating her needs well enough? Should I be worried about a bigger emotional or behavioral issue? It was time to go back to that old parenting drawing board. Here’s what I found.
- Tantrums aren’t uncommon in…