In my work on child development, I document predictable, age-related irritable period. I would be so bold to say that sometime between 2 years, 7 months and 2 years, 8 months, you can expect at least one major epic meltdown over something. It will likely have to do with leaving something fun. A child comes to a bigger perceptual awareness that there is a past, present, and future. Therefore, if you leave the park, they realize they aren’t getting that moment again–ever. That’s big heavy stuff for a 2 year old. My go to during epic meltdowns is give in fantasy what you can’t give in reality.
At this age, my daughter refused to get out of the bathtub and had a huge meltdown. When I gave her in fantasy what she could not have in reality, by wishing her room was one big bathtub, I was able to calm her down. This is the story I told on my Facebook page, The Observant Mom:
My 2 ½ year old had a really big meltdown today. It was time for a nap, but she insisted on taking a bath. I was like, well, it sometimes is really hard to get her in the bath, so why not do it now. So we took a bath. Then I finally asked her to get out. She got out willingly, but then wanted back in the bath when she realized I was trying to dress her. I tried bringing out some of her favorite things, such as videos of Frozen, but it wasn’t working. I tried a weak, “I understand. I wish we could go into the bath too.” I had the thought to just let her cry, but I tried that a few days ago and I knew it could go on for a really long time. No, this one needed some big tools.
I tried leaning into her wish as hard as I could. I said to her I wished her bedroom were one big bathtub and she were swimming in it. I wished there were bubbles as big as her laundry basket. I wished Dory were there; and Nemo; and Marlin; and Mr. Ray. She started to calm down. I let her sit with me for a bit. I asked if I could put a diaper on. She said yes!
I put her to bed and she took a long, hard nap.
I remember doing this exactly with my son at around this age. We were out and he wanted a drink in a white cup and all we had was a yellow cup. I wished we had a white cup as big as the moon and we could launch a rocket to space and get the drink out of the moon size white cup. He finally started laughing so hard and took the drink out of the yellow cup.
Remember that having faith that some solution exists will help will get you through these moments. Having control of your own emotions is key. I hope these thoughts serve as food for thought and as negative pattern breakers. Having a tool and being put in a pro-active in trying to solve a problem in and of itself can help enormously.
See my book Misbehavior is Growth: An Observant Parent’s Guide to the Toddler Years