What My Daughter’s ‘Toddler Tantrums’ Taught Me About Anger Management

By Kimberly Zapata

It is strange how silent and still my house becomes at nap time. The blinds are closed, the lights are low, and the only sounds I hear are the purring of my air conditioner, the buzzing of my fridge, and a quiet — yet consistent — drip, drip, drip.

(Damn. Maybe one day we’ll fix our kitchen sink.)

But don’t let the stillness fool you: Less than an hour ago, my house was in chaos. Less than 30 minutes ago, toys covered every surface, and tears soaked our living room carpet. Because 15 minutes ago, my daughter had a meltdown. Six-hundred seconds ago, my daughter had the “tantrum to end all tantrums.”

Why? Because I said the one word she cannot stand; the one word she hates the most. I said no.

I don’t recall what I said no to exactly, I just know the very sound of that word triggered anger and rage; and before long she was face down on the floor screaming.

Before long, she was kicking, flailing, and crying.

And while I wanted to join her — we had been up since 5:00 AM and nothing will try your patience quite like sleep deprivation and a toddler tantrum —I stopped and inhaled deeply. I paused and held the air in my lungs until it ached, until my entire chest burned, and then I exhaled before say — thoughtfully and carefully — “I don’t understand you when you scream like that.” I turned and walked away, and then added, “When you want to talk, I’ll be right here.”

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