Did you know that some kids are sent to earth specifically to encourage you to shuffle off this mortal coil? It's like they are born knowing exactly how to crawl deep under your skin, and then revel in staying in there until your head feels like it's going to explode and your eyeballs are going to pop out of your face. I've had the pleasure of babysitting lots of these little angels. And it's not just screaming and crying, though heaven knows I have endured multiple hours-long scream sessions in my day. A few months back I did a little last minute subbing in for a friend of mine who got sick and offered to watch her 8 year-old charge, figuring it would be a breeze. IT WAS NOT A BREEZE IT WAS A NIGHTMARE. He was beyond rude, rolling his eyes at everything I said, ignoring me when I asked him to let me know when he was moving to another side of the playground to ensure that I could see him at all times, and skateboarding inside his house despite my continued pleas to stop. Obviously, he was too old to physically remove from the skateboard, and being unfamiliar with the house rules I couldn't very well send him to his room. I find it best in those instances to do my best to remedy the situation, but if a willful child is going to be a P.O.S. then I'm not gonna give myself an aneurysm trying to get him to stop the behavior (as long as everyone is physically safe.) You'll be shocked to know I didn't return.
It is SO HARD to keep your cool when kids are freaking out on you, but it's important to remember that even during the most trying times that when they act out or cry, it's because they're having difficulty communicating something to you, and they're frustrated. (For the most part, sometimes they're just fucking assholes. But you still have to stay calm!) Remembering that this kid is not trying to ruin your life, however much it may seem like it, is key in being able to keep your cool and treat them with respect and compassion.
When a baby is having a full-on meltdown, whether it be the result of teething, colic, or just unknown freak-out crying, it can be really overwhelming, frightening, and draining. I've stood while rocking a crying baby for hours at a time, and I know that it can be absolutely maddening. The best thing to do, after ensuring that there is nothing physically wrong with the baby, is to give yourself little breaks even though the meltdown is still occurring. If you have a partner or someone present who can take over for a few minutes, do a hand-off and give yourself a chance to take some deep breaths, have a sip of water, go pee, and re-center yourself before going back in. If you are alone with a screaming baby and are at your wits end, do not feel that you need to lose your mind along with the baby. Put the baby safely in his crib, walk out of the room, and shut the door. Give yourself two minutes to breathe, cry, whatever it is that will help you calm your nerves and gather the strength to go back in and take care of that baby with a clear head. The worst thing you could do is to let that baby break you! He needs you to keep it together even if it means peace-ing out on him for just a few minutes to regroup. You don't need to be in mental or physical agony!
If your kid is old enough to be throwing vicious tantrums, remember that for the most part tantrums are conditioned behaviors that children turn to because they know they'll be getting the attention that they want. Is the kid holding her breath and freaking you out? Lay her on the floor so she is safe, tell her that when she's ready to talk you will discuss what's wrong, and step away. She can't commit suicide by holding her breath, the worst that will happen (which is highly unlikely) is that she'll get lightheaded and perhaps momentarily black out, which is why you laid her down on the floor. Once she is calm and ready to listen, you can chat about each other's needs and what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable. Same goes for a screaming tantrum, even if you're out in public. And heaven knows there's nothing more mortifying than a public tantrum, which is why you immediately remove the child from the public space, put him in the car or somewhere slightly private and safe, and wait it out. Giving in to your kid every time they flip just because you're out and want to avoid embarrassment is only going to further encourage this behavior. I strongly recommend noise cancelling headphones!
The worse thing you could do when a kid is driving you up the walls is to let them push you until you snap. So even if they're destroying your house, refusing to eat, hitting each other, or having a tantrum because they don't like the color blue, remember that you can't put the oxygen mask on them until you put it on yourself first. Do whatever you must to keep your sanity. Drink that coffee, gulp that water, step into the backyard for two minutes and feel the sunshine on your face, and then put your armor on and come back inside.