The Seven Deadly Stages of a Tantrum

If you are a parent of a toddler, you know the inside-out of a full-blown tantrum. The kind that happens in the shopping mall, at the supermarket till, outside the nursery, at the community centre… anywhere, anytime really! You know it’s coming, you know how it’s going to play out, you know the outcome, and you bloody hate those few (but seem-like-infinity) moments. You want to sink into the earth or pretend that’s not your child. Sadly, you can do neither. I’ve been there so many times, and yet, I don’t learn. So, the next time I see the ‘signs’, I’m going to be in control (yeah, right!).

Presenting: The Seven Deadly Stages of a Tantrum

1. Refusal to see the signs
This is where most parents – including me – fail. And then it’s all downhill from there. We refuse to see the signs, the ‘instigators’ as I call them – and even if we do, we believe in the goodness of our toddler and the Universe (wtf were we thinking?!) and choose to ignore them. Signs like overtiredness, hunger, boredom, temptation (why the hell would I walk past a Lego shop when I know Little Man is waaaay past his naptime and super irritable?!).
We think things will be different this time around, somehow believe our toddler won’t have a meltdown (why would today be any different?!), that today is our lucky day etc etc. Wake up!!! The same shit will happen today. Just see the bloody signs!


2. Gentle Appeasement
So, it’s happened. You’ve failed stage 1 and now, as I mentioned, it’s a downward journey. Though there is a 2 per cent chance you could redeem the situation (if it’s your lucky day that is!). You could offer whining toddler something he/she really badly wants. Like a new toy. An icecream. An extra 200 stories at bedtime. Whatever steers their boat. If it’s your day, they’ll shut up. If you’re in the 98 per cent category, you will progress to the third stage.

3. Passive-Aggressive Shouting
The shit has now hit the ceiling. Toddler is screeching/ howling/ screaming/ arms-in-the air and feet all-a-kicking. People are watching. Other mums judging. Your blood pressure is rising, just as quickly as your dignity is sinking. You want to be aggressive, you want to shout: Shut the f*** up!, but obviously you can’t, because you’re a mother and you’re in a public place! So it’s aggressive on the inside (where you are reaching boiling point) but still passive on the outside.

4. Prayer
When points 2 and 3 fail, you turn to God. You hope for a miracle. You make silent promises that if your toddler stops his histrionics you will become a better person/ mother/ whatever.

5. Denial
Even God can’t do much with a full-blown tantruming toddler, you realise. So you give up. You are in a brief period of denial. No, this CANNOT be happening to me. AGAIN! Didn’t we just go through this scenario yesterday?! Your inner self starts walking away, you smile at passers-by pretending that’s not your kid, you do anything to preserve that ounce of dignity that’s left.
adultier adult meme

6. The Deadlift
Till… the dreaded Deadlift occurs. You hate this bit. This is when the screams pass human hearing decibels and your toddler suddenly goes into a semi-fit. Sprawled across the floor, arms up, legs kicking… scary shit. You attempt to pick him up (to pacify/ reason/ run) but you physically cannot because of the deadly Deadlift position all tantruming toddlers master. They arch their backs and suddenly put on 15 kilos – it’s IMPOSSIBLE to pick them up/ hold onto them during this stage. Accept that you can’t do shit. Think of the amount of wine you will consume later tonight.

7. Bear the consequences
It’s the last stage… you can see the light at the end of the tunnel… but you realise it’s still not all over. You have to let the Deadlift stage pass, and then tread with caution, because although the worst is over, the atmosphere is still simmering. Either pick up toddler and make a hurried exit, or calm (now tired) toddler down, comfort him and make some sort of deal with him: if he comes to the car right now, he will get XYZ…
Basically, find an escape route and ESCAPE!

quotePS: This post was inspired and thought of while Little Man was in the midst of a huge tantrum last weekend – I shouldn’t have walked past that damn Lego shop!!!


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  1. nirupamaprv

    Ha ha ha! Completely agree with you… Though not so ha-ha when it is happening; but great as future reference to embarrass my threenager (thanks for that word) when she is a teenager or adult or both! ?

  2. Island Living 365

    Hahaha, I agree with every one of these. Also why does it always happen when perfect McPerfect mum walks past with her brood of well behaved angel children? Thanks for linking up with #FridayFrolics

    1. Nicole

      Agree! Our lil ones always tantrum when every other kid around is soooooo well behaved!

  3. Twin Pickle

    When I was a child I’m sure I tantrumed over Lego once or twice… it is pretty awesome. Tantrums are character building… that’s what I tell myself anyway! #FridayFrolics

  4. Life Love and Dirty Dishes

    I normally have a stage where I cry too! Thanks for linking up to #FridayFrolics

    1. Nicole

      Hahahaha! Yes, I forgot to add that!

  5. Silly Mummy

    Haha – yes, this is all true. I have two toddlers so I always have the fear they will both be doing it at the same time!

    Thanks so much for joining us on #FridayFrolics.

    1. Nicole

      Ouch… picturing both having a simultaneous meltdown:(

  6. Lucy's Locket

    We’re not at the tantrum stage yet, but thanks for the tips! I’ll know what to look out for 🙂 #GlobalBlogging

    1. Nicole

      Good luck! You’ll need it. Lol

  7. ourrachblogs

    Bang on. The tantrums almost break me I swear down. I have to remind myself that it’s not just me who’s going through it, even if it feels like it! #globalblogging

  8. One Messy Mama

    Yes, yes, and yes again! Can I say YES one more time… You’ve hit the nail on the had.. Man, That silent prayer moment as your eyes gloss over and all is quiet…. just for a second…. Well, in your own head anyway! 🙂 Fab post, thanks for linking up! Hope to see you next week! #GlobalBlogging

    1. Nicole

      Thank you. And thanks for hosting this exciting linky… great to connect with mums from around the world!

  9. stressymama

    Haha. Love this. It’s so true. My daughter loves a good tantrum! Every day. Several times a day.. It’s usually because she wants chocolate and I’ve said no. She usually gets the chocolate in the end.. ??

    1. Nicole

      Haha. Yeah our lil ones are the bosses!!! Thanks for reading

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  12. Kelly | and Jacob makes three

    Haha! Very funny. I can’t wait for this… ? #blogstravaganza

    1. Nicole

      Lol. Good luck in advance;)

  13. mums' army

    Ah yes the dreaded tantrum! Can relate to all of those stages! I try to use distraction now and get in quick. My worst is when its corpse body when you are trying to get them into the car seat!! Urgh!! Nicky x #Blogstravaganza

    1. Nicole

      Yes, distraction is often a life-saver, but you have to be quick… else it’s too late!
      Corpse body hahaha apt term. Thanks for popping over

  14. The Tale of Mummyhood

    This is all so true! I really need to start recognising the signs, it would save so much hassle!! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

    1. Nicole

      Problem is I’m damn good at recognising the signs, I just never act on them:(

  15. Nicole

    LOL! Too funny! Why does it always happen in front of other parents?! #thelistlinky

    1. Nicole

      ALWAYS! Hate that cruel twist of fate…
      Thanks for popping over:)

  16. Alana - Burnished Chaos

    Ha ha, all so very true. How do they suddenly become so heavy in that moment? It’s mind boggling x

    1. Nicole

      Absolutely mind-boggling!!! Thanks for reading:)

  17. Crummy Mummy

    I had to deal with a tantrum to end all tantrums in Tesco the other day – then an old lady sorted it all out by giving him a banana #thelistlinky

    1. Nicole

      🙂 I think I read that post… was so lovely!

  18. Heather Burnett

    You are SO right!!! And the DEADLIFT is probably the worst!!!
    Oh and can we talk about “Calm Down”!!! Ha!

    1. Nicole

      Cannot get past the DEADLIFT, can we? They always win!!! Thanks for reading…

  19. Helen Copson

    Ha, the deadlift, you’re so right. How are they suddenly so heavy?! Thomas had one of his biggest meltdowns yet the other day in Clarks when his baby brothers were getting new shoes – but his feet hadn’t grown! I nearly died 🙁 #ItsOK

    1. Nicole

      Because his feet hadn’t grown hahaha. Bless them! The REASONS for the tantrums are incredible, aren’t they?! So irritating at the time but hilarious in retrospect…

  20. Jennie

    Oh yes, we’ve all been there. And no, we never learn. Brilliant post #itsok

    1. Nicole

      Thanks much Jennie. It’s true, we NEVER learn!!!

  21. Anita Faulkner - Brazen Mummy Writes

    This is too funny! Where do these toddlers learn the stages, that’s what I wanna know! They’re in it together. Glad I’m not the only one with the passive aggressive thing going on. At least there’s the wine. Xx

    1. Nicole

      It IS quite strange, how they indeed are all in it together!
      Oh, I’m a queen at passive aggressiveness!
      Thanks for your lovely comment

  22. Joanna Melia

    This is great, my girl is just at the age tantrums are starting so I need to to learn not to go past a lego shop #ItsOK

    1. Nicole

      Good luck Joanna… and so it begins!

  23. chickenruby

    we had this with our youngest every time when he realised Mum wasn’t actually going in the car with him, he became a lead weight and my husband had to use a foot to hold him in place in the car seat while he fought with the buckles, within 5 mins he’d stop screaming and chart away as is nothing had happened #itsok

    1. Nicole

      Buckling them in a carseat is challenging enough; can imagine doing that during a proper meltdown! Amazing how the tantrum ruins the rest of our day, but they seem to move on as though nothing ever happened!!!

  24. Jacqui

    I find myself dealing with these 7 stages almost on a daily basis now! After trying almost everything I’ve decided to act like an ostrich and stick my head in the sand 🙂 Maybe then the tantrum isn’t actually happening right! #itsok

    1. Nicole

      That’s a great survival tactic Jacqui!!! Whatever helps us get through those moments;)

  25. Crummy Mummy

    We’re in the throes of the terrible twos at the moment so I can totally relate to this! #itsok

    1. Nicole

      Been there, done that, all I can say is ‘good luck’ and ‘This too shall pass’…

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