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Friday 29 September 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# parents panel
Parents Panel: What was the last tantrum your toddler threw - and where did it happen?
Stories of epic toddler meltdowns, as told by the survivors.

BY THE TIME your little one reaches toddler and preschool age, they’re well able to tell you what they want. And that’s where the trouble starts, from dealing with tantrums to navigating playdates. That’s why it can be so helpful to hear how other parents are getting through it all.

Our Toddler and Preschool Parents Panel is made up of parents with little ones from 24 months up to age five.


This week, we asked the panel:

When was the last time your child had a tantrum – and where, and why?

Here are a few of the best responses:

Cheese, please: Public meltdowns are a relatively new thing we’ve had to deal with as our twins turn two and a half. Last week, we sat down to have a picnic. Mammy had the audacity to produce pasta pesto without cheese, which was enough to send Evie writhing and screaming at the top of her lungs and to lie on the ground under the picnic bench.

We cleared the picnic area and it lasted all the way back to the car and the drive home, until she sat triumphantly at the kitchen table eating pasta with cheese.

- Joanna Burke

It could be anything: My boys (two years and four years) have tantrums on the daily. They’re mostly about sharing and the lack of the ability to do the same. But sometimes you’re blessed with some irrational golden nuggets and you can’t help but laugh.

Such as using their little hands to break a banana in half but not wanting to eat a banana that is in two halves, or only wanting to eat their cereal from a blue bowl yet asking for a yellow bowl and when being served their breakfast in a yellow bowl screaming and pointing at the bowl and shouting “yellow”, by which indicating that the bowl should of course be blue. 

- Kaisu Healy

Shutterstock / Aaron Amat Shutterstock / Aaron Amat / Aaron Amat

They both happened at home (thank God): The most recent tantrum from my just turned two-year-old was when he flung himself on the floor screaming because I cut the stem off his strawberry. Before that was when I wouldn’t let him wear his puffy winter coat because it was 23 degrees outside.

- Michelle O’Brien

‘No’ seems to be a trigger for a violent tantrum: Even when responding to the most irrational of requests, we have learned how to carefully phrase our answers so that they contain an alternative suggestion rather than a blunt refusal.

Last weekend, our two-year-old daughter wanted all of us to go to her nana’s house, but was refusing to get into the car to go there. No amount of explanations about the laws of physics were satisfactory. While she was mid-tantrum, I pretended to trip over something and the sight of me falling over proved to be a good enough distraction to get her there.

- Ger Lowry

shutterstock_583750435 Shutterstock / Kamelia Ilieva Shutterstock / Kamelia Ilieva / Kamelia Ilieva

There are a few ‘greatest hits’: Our daughter is three so we have been living with the constant possibility that at any moment, of any day, for any reason at all she could launch into a tantrum.

One of the most memorable is when she was going through a phase of being obsessed with the Disney film Moana and thought that water was her friend. While on the ferry over to France for our holidays, my husband brought her out on the deck to see the sea.

She plonked herself down on the wet ground and proceeded to take off her socks and shoes and was absolutely disgusted that daddy was not going to let her jump off the ferry into the sea.

- Deirdre McCormack

Just yesterday: My three-year-old idolises his older cousin. He asks to see him everyday but they live about an hour away. I stupidly mentioned yesterday morning that we were going to see him later – cue a run to the door as he was ready to go at 6am. I had to do a few bits first, including going to the shop.

When we got back to our house after the shops, he was bereft that we weren’t going to his cousin’s and refused to get out of the car. My husband drove him around for a bit while I packed up, and lo and behold he fell asleep pretty quickly and was delighted to wake up and be reunited with his cousin.

- Niamh Doyle 

More: 4 things you’re forced to stop being squeamish about post-kids – and 3 that just never get easier

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