Helpless

Last night was one of the most nerve wrecking, emotionally draining, turbulent times I have recently faced. I have been noticing this phenomenon happen regularly in the past few days, but yesterday was the climax of it all.

It is about Pari’s tantrums. Every evening she enjoys playing and watching TV which follows dinner time. All goes on fine till then. Halfway through dinner suddenly she’ll start demanding everything in sight, including hot food pots and also things that she knows are lying in her room. The crankiness is directly proportional to the delay in handing her the object she fancies.

A no is something she never takes at times like these. The crankiness in no time changes to angry, tearful outburst and she refuses to stay any second longer in her high chair. Anger is one emotion she finds impossible to control and I have slowly begun fearing such moments.

The angry outburst if left unattended for a couple of minutes results in her throwing down all the items she had collected on her table and will cry till I rescue her from her high chair. This was the original form of the tantrum-throwing-around-dinner that started early last week.

I took this very seriously and thinking maybe she gets very hungry by the time we eat dinner I tried to feed her earlier, but in vain. Tried changing the sequence of events that usually precede eating dinner, but things didn’t change. A day or two passed and her dinner-time tantrum started getting extended to half an hour post dinner to one hour in matter of three days.

Needless to say, everyone in the house was worried and my parents much more than me. The point to note here is, I am not saying that Pari doesn’t throw tantrums or anger fits at any other time, she does and I am aware that is normal for her age, but these evening to late night anger-tantrum-crankiness attacks are scaring me to no limits.

Yesterday night, I was busy baking a big cake and was also intending to frost this multi-layer cake. While still busy with the cake, I had Pari enjoy the frosting and the cake mix while playing around. There were some issues with the ingredients and it being Sunday I had to bake with the things available, requiring lot of time and effort to get the desired outcome

After a tiring baking session all I wanted was to go off to sleep as soon as we were done with dinner. Pari was very excited after having had a generous dollop of the chocolate frosting and was enjoying the dinner when the usual dinner-time crankiness hit home.

I being very tired decided to take her off the high-chair before she got any more upset so that things would calm down in time But, last night was destined to be etched in my mind and memory forever.

I took Pari for a stroll in our portico and she was calm in no time. I misunderstood this momentary peace and failed to see the storm lurking over me. I made the critical mistake of returning her to her high chair and within the count of three, she started crying.

There is one peculiar habit in her that whenever she gets very angry she tries to bang the back of her head against anything near her. Be it wall or the back of a chair, and there is no stopping. It scares, worries and irks me to extremes but still I try my best to stay in control, dropping everything I have in hand and rush to lift her in an attempt to stop her.

Yesterday evening when she started crying, she seemed to have made up her mind to not give up till all her energy reserves were exhausted. From rocking to swinging to giving her every possible thing she likes and might like, to singing and dancing to all insane item numbers and lullabies, to trying to make her sip water to drink milk, we tried every trick under the sun, moon and stars just to see them fail and fall headlong.

She cried non-stop in heart-wrenching shrill and after failing miserably to comfort her, I started crying too. It was very painful to see her so miserable in a fit of anger and only to throw a tantrum that lasted till midnight. When she was finally exhausted and could cry no longer she finally slept.

I was far more exhausted emotionally than physically and couldn’t sleep for hours after Pari slept. I couldn’t keep from worrying and wondering how would I have managed these difficult times had I not had the support, love, care and wisdom of my parents to guide me. I couldn’t help but feel scared and helpless worrying how will I take care of Pari as a single parent in the times to come.

Something pinched me deep and I failed to sleep beyond an hour last night. Though the tide has gone but the sediment of doubt, worry, fear and helplessness it has left in the shores of my mind are making me go sick with anxiety. I am aware that all these are part and parcel of parenting and growing up for babies, but my already shaken emotional stability fails to see these happenings as milestones of parenting.

I sincerely hope to become so strong that no-matter what challenge life might throw my way, I’ll be able to face it and swim through the rough waters to help my daughter have a happy life ahead. In the meantime, I am trying my best to bid goodbye to the helplessness that has gripped me tightly.

Edited to add: Ipshita shared a very useful link about understanding and managing behavior issues in toddlers >> A toddler’s need for boundaries – No walk in the park

The song on my mind: Chotti choti raatein ~ Tum Bin

63 thoughts on “Helpless

  1. Children go through phases. So be assured that this too shall pass.
    Also, they are great manipulators too, don’t bend everytime she throws a tantrum. Its my belief that they do their Phd in psychology when they are in the womb itself. 😦 πŸ˜€

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  2. Oh ME!

    Big hugs dear!! I can so understand that getting scared bit..it happened to me as well, not once but twice…R got so over hyper that I got scared, I cried myself, at least you didnt shout at Pari, I ended up screaming at R, worsening the situation and in such a state that I almost hit my head against the wall in frustration 😦

    It happens, honestly…but I have realised the best way is not to lose MY temper..if I am calm, she gets calm herself..

    take care da

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  3. Smita

    Oh my God!!! I can understand your feelings…there have been times when I would cry with Arnav.

    You know there has to be a reason behind the pattern. Check by any chance if she has blisters which is giving her a trouble while she eats (but if this happens only during dinner time then this can be ruled out) or if it is something that you give? Her tummy? Have you thought showing to a doctor? See a baby wouldn never cry this much only for a tantrum. There has to be a reason behind it and I feel it is better to show to a doc. It might help!

    Or try feeding her out of the chair?

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    1. I did check with the doctor and everything is fine on that front. It is just a behaviour management issue. Though *touchwood* things have been in control since that night and Pari isn’t getting any cranky like the past week. Maybe it had something to do with the stuffy nose etc. she has been having on and off in the changing weather.

      Now she is fine with the chair too, so I guess it was just a learning curve (for me) and a growth spurt of hers.

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  4. Hugs Me.. more and more hugs!!! I can understand how tiring it would have been for you, by the time Pari started her tantrums. Her crying non-stop only made things worse. But I am seeing all this in a different light. I am sure you are going to be just fine in future too. Pari is doing whatever she is doing now, as she has no awareness of anything. But things are going to be better, once she understands and communicates whats bothering her. You will manage better in future, I am sure. I can also understand how the fear kept you awake, its quite natural for a human mind to anticipate things and worry about them. Get yourself some rest first ME. I am very sure, its going to be alright. Hugs again!

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    1. Tight hugs dear GB πŸ™‚
      Thank you for the reassurance that things will get better with time and for showing me something I wasn’t even realising in the heat of the moment, that once Pari grows up, she’ll be able to voice her dislikes and concerns unlike now. It is so difficult when your child can’t say it to you and you don’t seem to understand the visible signs, but yes, you are right things will definitely get better from here on πŸ™‚
      Love you GB πŸ˜€

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  5. Hugs ME…i know how frustrating it is…Hope both of you are better now…
    Zini too used to do this and after that i stopped keeping anything on the table during her meal times. And we also used to take turns to eat. Though she has improved a bit now.

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    1. Yes t2m we are better now πŸ™‚
      we too take turns to eat the days Pari is in no mood to join us for the meal, I am sure things will get better as she grows up πŸ™‚
      Hugs dear

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  6. Privy Trifles

    Hugss ME πŸ™‚

    I will not say I understand for no one but you can. But then I am sure that as time passes your fears will be proved useless as you will be able to manage Pari beautifully well. I agree it is not an easy task but as Pari grows up under your love and care she will be extremely understanding about the situation and hence you will not have more trouble to deal with at all…

    Take care

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  7. i am in the same state dear.. looks like this is the phase.. bunty too has learnt the words, this,that, i want to eat and thank u.. so she keeps tell this in sequence in the night, she will show something, and say she wants to eat, say thank u, even before i give it and wants to play till midnight.. she would be sleepy, but she wouldnt sleep.. i hardly get to sleep… no sleep, then cook in the morning, pack food, come for work, drive back 10km and then play with her is all fine, but playing in the midnight … no no its just not playing its crying to get things she wants is irritating to me.. thank god MIL is there to do the change over duty, or else i would have run away by now.. 😦

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    1. Oh my God! I can understand how difficult it must be for you with full time work and not getting enough sleep besides worrying about Bunty all the while. You are right AM this definitely part of the toddler phase of growing up and hopefully will be over soon. Indeed it’s good that you have your MIL around to help you with Bunty πŸ™‚
      Hugs dear

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  8. It is just a phase of growing up. I know it is hard for you at the moment but things will change and you will soon realise that all your fears and worries are pointless. It is just a matter of time.

    Stay strong friend. You are doing a great job!

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  9. Hmmm I know i say it a lot πŸ™‚ but this is all about growing up.. she banging her head is not that much to be worried about , my nephew does that , I had gone to my cousins house and i was sleeping in the same room as the little one and suddenly in his sleep he started banging his head on the pillow .. I got so worried I woke the cousins up.. It is fine kids do that .. I dont have a answer but so i am told

    I think Pari is growing up and she is changing too I would not get too upset over it , we all have done these tantrums..

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    1. You have no idea how better I am feeling ever since you’ve mentioned that your nephew too used to bang his head, else I had begun worrying what makes Pari do such dangerous things πŸ™‚
      I guess you are right Bikram that we too must have done similar things. Maybe that is why my parents don’t worry so much as I do for they have seen it all and know it’s just a phase of her growing up πŸ™‚
      Thank you for the insight πŸ˜€

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  10. hugs ME.. did you all try just ignoring her? I know she would bawl initially but sometimes if they realize that their tantrums are not grabbing attention they might just drop it though this might be too early for Pari.. this is the treatment Adi received when she was 3 or 4.. whenever she cries it will be made sure that she will not get what she is crying for.. It was painful and I have cried at such instances too but budging to their cry or tantrum will only make them more stubborn.. these are just my opinion..

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    1. I actually did when my mum persuaded me to do so but that night nothing seemed to work though I must admit ignoring does work like a charm when distraction doesn’t πŸ™‚
      I agree with you Ani I can’t be yielding to all her tantrums else it’ll only worsen her crankiness and stubborn behavior. I’ll surely keep your advise in mind πŸ™‚
      Hugs dear

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  11. Chucky hated her high chair, she hated solid food manily because of high chair, I avoided high chair for 3-4months, later after she started going to daycare she started eating in the high chair. Try to give here food else where. I am not telling that is the reason but you can experiment that. Chucky had a phase where she used to bang her head as as you said even I used to feel very scared, but later she realized that it is not good to hurt herself. I haven’t done anything. Big hugs to you!!

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    1. I agree with you LF, we need to be very flexible with kids for they do have their moments of dislike and like even for the things they are very fond of. Pari too has her moments of restlessness in the high chair, but this tantrum Tsunami seems to be in control for now *touchwood*
      I am glad Chucky learnt that it was dangerous to bang her head like that, but your experience made me feel good that Pari isn’t the only one doing so πŸ™‚
      Hugs dear…thank you for sharing your experiences they are a great help πŸ™‚

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  12. I’m no expert on parenting but so far what you’ve described seems normal for her age. I know that modern parenting stresses discipline and not giving in for fear of reinforcing bad behaviour but I have a more malleable approach. So I never forced the high chair with Benji for example. I can totally understand not wanting to sit in it (also they do go through phases about what they want to do). I tend to go with distractions rather than a confrontational no, unless it’s something very harmful like hot pots like you described (though Benji has even touched them and learned his lesson… he can say “hot hot” very sweetly now). Though some kids are harder to distract I know and some parents start time-outs before kids are even one. I know it’s exhausting but try not to worry. She is being a toddler and doing what toddlers do which is exploring and testing their boundaries. I’ve just finished a book on brain science and the last chapter is one exactly this and how this skill is necessary for survival. It suggests that curiosity in children is a drive like hunger or thirst and so you might think of her outrage at curbing her desire to explore as the same as her reaction would be if you denied her food when she’s hungry. Granted, you can’t always indulge as it might be harmful for her but I try to let go of things that are not that harmful.

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    1. You have no idea how relaxed your first line made me feel. OMG Benji actually went ahead to touch hot pots…though I too am dreading that day isn’t too far at my home.
      My mum says the exact same thing Bride, that I need to let Pari be only then she’ll learn and will not get over-curious. Though I do try to ignore and distract most of the times but somedays I too am at my crankiest and that kicks in a vicious circle. As time is moving on I am getting clearer about what I should be doing and what I need to resist even if Pari makes me hyperventilate πŸ™‚

      Thank you Bride for sharing your experiences, they were a great help πŸ™‚

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  13. Hugs ME! I guess every parent goes through this at some point or the other. It is a part of growing up.
    At this age, it is frustrating because the child can’t express herself by words… and we as parents fail to understand what has triggered the tantrum. Here I think distractions work the best. As she grows up and is able to express herself better, your helplessness in managing the situation will decrease. Hugs again.

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    1. You are very right lifesong, but things have been failing at my end lately because distracting Pari is getting tougher by the minute. I am eagerly waiting for the things to get better πŸ™‚
      Hugs dear

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  14. I guess you have enough advice from people who have been there, done that πŸ™‚
    Big hugs!!

    I’d like to echo what Smita said above. Either to get her checked if she is ok otherwise… tummy cramps or something after dinner. Or it could even be an aversion to the high-chair, since you were saying she started screaming once she was replaced in that chair. You never know!

    Everyday is a new learning for you. You are doing fine so far. Do not worry or stress too much on the single mother bit. I m pretty sure all mothers go through these phases….. having seen a lot of my cousins and friends be recent mothers and relate their stories to me. This too shall pass. Don’t murder yourself or beat yourself up for it. I think you have been a fabulous job of taking care of yourself…and little Pari…so far. Don’t let phases get you down. Hugs!

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    1. Love you Ash for telling me that I am doing fine so far, it might sound crazy but many times I need reassurances like these to get back to my normal self from the hyper-anxious mode.
      Hugs!

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  15. Hugs ME!! I too feel that this might be just a phase. Try diversion and experimentation. Change her dinner place, feed her out of her high chair, do something that she thoroughly enjoys while feeding her. With children, nothing is permanent, keeps changing all the time.

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  16. Toddler hood can really get tough. It’s a lot like teenage. The child can now understand you a lot but cannot express. This adds to a lot of frustation. New emotions also develop and they do not have too much control on that. So, hang in there, it will get better. Take it from a mom of two πŸ™‚ Try changing the feeding place for a while and don’t be too strict about eating on a high chair. Sometimes kids’ just don’t take to an activity like my daughter who hates brushing! It’s a struggle every morning!! We are all in the same boat πŸ™‚

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    1. You are so right MoRS that toddlers are like teenagers. Infact I vividly remember being a cranky teen myself. I am with you in not being too strict about always feeding on the high chair or feed timings et all. I let her be most of the times for she is still too young to be disciplined that way. Since you said things are soon going to get better, I am surely going to listen to you.
      Thank you dear for telling me that all this happens with all kids, it is a big relief πŸ™‚
      Hugs!

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  17. If she was crying till the time she felt asleep, she might be in some kind of pain or discomfort. Have you consulted with a doctor yet?
    From what I have learnt from my maha-ruckus-creating tantrum throwing nieces : One – they find something out of place or out of the usual order and create a hullabaloo about it. Second – it is something to do with the food, either they are not hungry, or the taste is not good, or they are not in the mood. Third – something to do with the body, either they are ill or some pain in the stomach or cramps in the legs. Since they cant tell you, they scream at you and no amount of cajoling or diversion techniques work.

    Maybe Pari does not like eating on a high chair or she prefers eating outside, in the balcony?

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    1. Yes, been to a doc and all is fine on the health front. *touchwood*
      You are spot on all the observations Visha, I’ll surely keep all these in mind next time am confused as to what’s bothering Pari. You know having a checklist in mind is always handy πŸ˜€
      Love you πŸ™‚

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  18. tight hugs! like everyone else is saying, this too shall pass.
    I’ve seen my cousin do that as a kid…whenever he threw a tantrum, he’d bend down and repeatedly bang his forehead on the floor (or go to the nearest wall and bang forehead on it) till thre is a huge bump on it. It used to scare the hell out of all of us! but well, it passed when it had to pass.

    so, dont worry. and yeah, don’t give in to every tantrum. i know she’s a tiny thing, but she needs to know she cannot have everything her way with a tantrum πŸ™‚ earlier she learns, the better.

    tight hugs to both of you!

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    1. Glad to get a comment from you πŸ™‚ Welcome back after a long break πŸ˜€
      I agree, I keep reminding myself that I shouldn’t be yielding to her every demand and that actually will be a big behavior decider in the long run.
      I am glad your cousin’s child stopped the dangerous head banging habit, am desperately waiting for Pari to stop doing that soon πŸ™‚
      Love from both of us πŸ™‚

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  19. Sia

    I second Visha. May be she is pain or something? Have you tried baby talks with her when she is in a better mood. I know you are worried but make sure you don;t give in to unreasonable tantrums. Don’t worry. However cliched it might sound -This too shall pass!

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  20. Arjun Sharma

    I remember one trick my mum used to apply when i was a kid. like any other kid, i wanted all the toys and other crap everyone else had. so when i would throw a fit, she would just coolly say – we’ll get it tomorrow. then the next day, she would say – i asked the shopkeeper and he said he’ll get it tomorrow. third day another excuse πŸ˜€ and by the 4th-5th day i wouldve gotten over whatever it was that i wanted.
    i think if u say no directly to a kid it will make em cranky and that’s when all hell breaks loose. but then i dont know anything about parenting πŸ˜€ this could work maybe?

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    1. I remember my parents using that trick on me too πŸ™‚
      Thank you for that great tip Arjun. You are right kids can’t take a no but yes finding ways to give them the right message in an acceptable way can be really wonderful πŸ™‚

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  21. I have nothing to share reagarding parenting but all that I can assure is this phase too will pass πŸ™‚ Pari is just normal for her age and there is nothing that must worry you at this stage πŸ™‚ Take care of your mental health πŸ™‚ hugs ME

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  22. Hugs ME….i can very well relate it with you with a same age toddler but obviously it is doubly difficult for you to handle all this single-handedly 😦
    Mishti also throws a lot of tantrums nowadays and anything denied is followed with loud shrieks, stomping feet & rolling on floor…generally first i try to distract her but if situation continues then we purposely ignore….and it worked 90% of times. But you know every child is different so i am not sure whether this trick would work for Pari or not.
    Also, Check out for health symptoms…like whether she is gassy thus having tummy ache, avoid any such food in night. Any minute cold symptoms also makes toddler irritable as they cannot speak out the uneasiness. Reschedule her dinner time a bit early, might be she is cranky because of sleepiness.
    And you please don’t take too much stress…this is a tricky situation and you are doing a wonderful job…cheer up darling πŸ™‚

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    1. I too have started ignoring these days, it really does wonders where distraction fails. It was tough in the start, but I guess it gives Pari the message that I won’t yild and she better stop her tantrum πŸ™‚
      Thank you N for the loving reassurance πŸ™‚
      Hugs!

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  23. Hugs ME πŸ™‚ I think you have got advice from people you have gone through this! All I can tell you is take care and don’t let these phases to shake you up. Take care ME. A tight hug πŸ™‚

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  24. I empathize with your situtaion and exactly know how it feels.I am a mother of two and half year old son and have also been through these situations.It’s emotionally draining at times.I felt he needed more attention and when I started giving him undivided attention the tantrums reduced.I hope this helps πŸ™‚

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  25. Pingback: Indulgence | The Era I lived in

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