What sort of behavior would you expect if a child becomes overloaded with sensory stimulation, hunger, and exhaustion?
This is rather an absurd question because the answer is obvious. Even adults get cranky, never mind little kids who can become just as unreasonable as an old curmudgeon, often experiencing complete meltdowns. In other words, little kids have a what we call a temper tantrum where onlookers assume they are simply spoiled rotten. Sometimes I think we expect even better behavior from children than adults.
Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
If I had to divulge one secret to making childcare easier, that I was fortunate enough to discover early in my mothering career, it would be, “Never let them get tired and never let them get hungry.”
There is a universal image stuck in our brains of a screaming toddler throwing a tantrum on the floor of a grocery store. Even the best parent becomes a helpless victim in these situations because nobody is as miserable and disagreeable as a hungry and irritable baby, toddler, or small child. This so-called temper tantrum is really a baby breakdown; they are over-stimulated, under nourished and physically exhausted without any tools to vent their frustration and anger.
Think about being in a position of total submission to another person’s control, unable to meet your own needs, and the person in charge is not doing his job. When I ignored the warning signs that my kids were reaching their limits of endurance, I created either a clinging, whiny wimp or a screaming monster. Then nothing I did or said seemed to help the situation.
I might have looked like a self-sacrificing mother but I was merely acting out of a sense of self-preservation when I put my kids’ needs first. No time for resentment because happy and satisfied kids were worth every “sacrifice” I made. The peace was worth any compromise. One niece once told me that many people had given her advice when she became a new mother but the only thing she always remembered and practiced was, “Never let them get tired and never let them get hungry.”
What advice would YOU share?
Copyright 2014, Melanie Jean Juneau