Got Tantrums During Holiday? No Problem!

Sarah Ong Article, Aware Parenting, Blog, emotional well-being Leave a Comment

I am back home and while the trip was super fun (despite it being a rainy season), I am not going to tell you all about the fun stuff we did.

Instead, I want to share with you the “ugly side” of holidays that usually people don’t share or talk about when they travel with little children.

You know what I’m talking about. The whining, agitation, tantrums, overstimulation.

That was me and Miss 4 on the first night of our trip. What happened here was the “calm” tail end of a MASSIVE tantrum. She was still crying that point.

Maybe it’s the holiday effect, but I was very calm and connected with her tantrums.

It all began when she showed her agitation when we were out for dinner. Instead of getting upset with her “difficult behavior”, I traced back what happened earlier in the day.

The night before the trip, she fell asleep at 7pm and woke up at 6.15am. From the time she woke up, there were excitement, movement with last minute packing, anticipation of seeing her cousins, boarding the flight, jumped straight into the pool and played in it for 2 straight hours, and then got ready for dinner which was happening at close to 8pm.

I was already feeling tired by then. What more for her who seemed to have been overstimulated by the activities and the long waking hours.

She is the youngest child out of the 5 children, so in the end she crashed and couldn’t keep up with the bigger children any longer.

I knew this was coming already so I was mentally and emotionally prepared for it. I didn’t feel frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy my dinner. Felt a little disappointed but not upset.

Whilst we were out, I tried to manage her tantrums by minimizing it – you know, by distracting her with walking and showing her things. Coz it was not a good time to allow it all to come out with my other family members and restaurant patrons wanting to enjoy their food.

Once we were back at the villa, I allowed her to cry and rage. She did a huge one.. for about 20 minutes or so. Lots of thrashing, movement, screaming, sweating and tears. It was ugly.

But I knew she needed to do it. She needed to release the tension in her body in order for her to relax for bed that night. And she needed me to hold that gentle and safe space for her to release her big feelings.

My hubby took that photo of us. He stayed with us towards the end and he knew what I had to do for our miss 4.

Not long after that photo was taken, she fell asleep next to me on the sofa and then I carried her into our bedroom. We shared our beds with her and she had the best sleep ever.

For the rest of the trip, she didn’t have any tantrums but on day 3, my Miss 7 had a fall and scratched her knee. It was a small scratch, but it was enough to trigger the release in her.

Yup! So I listened to another round of meltdown, staying close to her while we lay together on the bed. She was upset that the scratch had to happen before she could get into the pool and was upset that she couldn’t swim with her cousins.

That night, she slept the earliest and the next day, she jumped into the pool and forgot about the little scratch 🙂

There you go. The “ugly” story of my holiday. But I so welcomed it and honestly, to me there really wasn’t anything ugly about it at all. I am so glad I provided the space to listen to them when they needed me most. There were no coaxing, “Please behave, we are on a holiday… please be good?“, dismissal “Oh it’s just a small scratch!” or threat, “If you don’t stop this behavior, we won’t go swimming in the pool!“.

That probably would have spiralled into something else. And that something else might be even uglier!