Toddlers, Transitions and Tantrums

A few months ago, I felt like I lost my grip on this mommy thing. Only now am I ready to share. It was about my daughter’s transition to child care: the most challenging mommy experience I’ve had to date. And by challenging, I mean question-everything-I’m-doing-I-must-be-failing-what’s-wrong-with-me challenging.

Thing is, my Pumpkin’s transition into her actual child care placement went so smoothly. She didn’t even cry! My daughter is slow to warm up to new people and new situations, and so we slowly transitioned her into care over a few weeks. I was one proud mommy when I heard she was doing so well. I, too, found my transition back to work incredibly easy.

So what’s the problem, you ask??

Crying toddler and motherFrom the moment Pumpkin got home from child care and I from work, it was as though my sweet little girl turned into someone else entirely. It was a pretty sad picture. For example, one day, I had her happily enjoying a yogurt snack when I reached for her spoon to help get some actual yogurt on the spoon. The moment my finger made contact with her spoon, she broke out into a tantrum of epic proportions. She was on the floor, head-banging, screeching for forty-five minutes. I tried everything the parenting experts say to manage temper tantrums. Literally nothing worked. This is only one example, but pretty much every evening for three months after child care, I walked a very thin and shaky line trying to prevent temper tantrums.

Very slowly things started to improve. I do hope my efforts to prevent tantrums and to help calm my daughter down during her tantrums helped, but I know the biggest difference is the fact that at 19 months, she is better able to communicate with me.

Now that I can step away from the emotional intensity of my situation, I can clearly see that with babies, toddlers, children with special needs and even older kids, behaviour is communication.

My daughter was only about 12-15 months old at this time and so her ability to actually tell me what she needed was very limited. It was my job as her parent to be her “detective” to figure out what she was trying to tell me and to help her express her feelings and needs in a more appropriate way. Was she tired? Was she overwhelmed? Was she hungry? Did she need some quiet activity? Or was she just needing to assert her independence?

So the next time you find yourself pulling out your hair because of your child’s behaviour and tempers… try taking a step back and ask yourself what could he be trying to tell me?? I think there were many things Pumpkin was trying to tell me during those days and maybe if I had focused less on keeping her “happy” and more on being her detective and figuring out the root cause of her behaviour, our transition to child care and back to work might have been less stressful for all of us.

Speaking of transitions, we are moving next month (within our community) and my daughter is transitioning to a new child care. That’s a lot of change for my little girl! I’ll let you know how it goes…

To share your experience or to get more info about toddlers, transitions and tantrums, you can get in touch with us by:

  • Leave us a comment below
  • Tweet us: @haltonparents
  • Email us:
  • Dial 311 (within Halton) or 905-825-6000 to talk with one of the public health nurses. We’re around Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Read Andrea’s Bio

About Andrea Scott RN

I’m a public health nurse with the HaltonParents team – you'll find me on Facebook, Twitter and on this blog, writing about all things parenting. I’ve been working for the Halton Region Health Department since 2006 and my focus has been on supporting parents with babies and little kids. I have two little ones myself, “Pumpkin” and “Monkey” who give me plenty to write about! :)
This entry was posted in Parenting, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Toddlers & Preschoolers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Toddlers, Transitions and Tantrums

  1. Pingback: Leadership Thought #445 – How We Transition… | Ed Robinson's Blog

  2. Pingback: Countdown to calm: How to ease transitions for toddlers | HaltonParents

  3. Pingback: Returning to work? How to make breastfeeding work for you! | HaltonParents

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