Temper Tantrums: A Work in Progress

June 21, 2021

Cora is working on her temper tantrums. She gets upset, and she knows from her two and a half years of experience that a temper tantrum is the best way of expressing her feelings, but she finds them more challenging to maintain than her sister did.

She can get up a good, loud scream when she wants to, and she can make some truly unpleasant screechy angry noises to express her displeasure, but unless she’s very tired she really struggles to keep it up long-term. She will get a good start – throwing herself on the floor, kicking her feet, screaming – but if no one talks to her, her kicks will become half-hearted and even her screams will start to sound unenthusiastic.

“C’mon, Cora, you can do a better job than that,” I’ll tell her. “Annie was way better at this at your age.”

She’ll get a little renewed energy and then lose interest again. And then suddenly she’ll suddenly get distracted by a toy or an unrelated thought, pop up off the floor, and come running over to tell me something exciting or funny.

Of course, when she’s over-tired, she has no setting other than “unhappy”.


Today, amidst forcing out some sobs, she paused to say, “Mommy, my eyes are not wet!”

“That’s because you’re not really sad, you’re just pretending,” I said.

Cora forced out a few more sobs, which grew gradually more frustrated. She put her hand to her eyes, feeling for tears. “They are not wet!” she cried, angrily.

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” I said, and wrapped her in a hug which she accepted unwillingly. She made a few more sobbing-type noises and then got distracted. “Mommy, what’s that black line in your mouth?” Cora is often distracted by the black line in my mouth. It doesn’t matter how many times we discuss it; it continues to puzzle her.

“That’s the line between my teeth,” I explained again. “I have two front teeth and they are separated by a line.”

Her pretend sobs stop as she studies my teeth.


When she actually feels herself losing control, occasionally she will recognize it and say, “I have to go to the calming-down room now.” She will point to the sunroom. “That is the calming-down room,” she explains.

“Oh, okay,” I’ll say. “You go calm down in the calming-down room.”

Now that I know about the calming-down room I occasionally suggest it, as an alternative to her bedroom when she is screaming.