The stomping foot, arms crossed, protesting lower lip. The crying and screaming, the trembling body. The lovely classic signs of a temper tantrum.
There are times when I find it extremely hilarious.
When we are not in a rush and we are not having a temper tantrum over wellies or sandals on a rainy day. On those situations the problem might be solved with a conspicuous
“I understand you, I hear you, I know you want the sandals but it’s raining outside and you don’t want your feet to get wet now, do you? No? I thought so, so let’s save the sandals for another day and we go and find your lovely Peppa Pig wellies now.”
If it only worked…
But then there are the most entertaining temper tantrums when the child herself forgets why they are stomping their foot. The very mood when anything you offer is thrown back at you with a solemn “no”.
Like the other night at bedtime.
We had just finished our routine of brush your teeth – bath – pyjamas – hair – and it was time to pick a book for bedtime story. All of a sudden I see my child protesting and trashing around on the bed.
“Do you want your teddy?”
“Do you want your drink?”
“Do you want the monkey book for bedtime story?”
“The Gruffalo book?”
“Do you want mummy hug?”
“Do you want a kiss?”
“What would you like?”
“What, you would like a ‘no’?”
“Okay,” I inhale and shout as loud as I can master, knowing that Elisa’s night carer is just next door, “NO!!!!!”
That startles her. She turns to stare at me.
“Is that what you wanted?” I asked.
“No…” She says and sniffs.
“What would you like then?”
“Another one? Really?”
“Okay then… NO!!!” I shout and slam my hands on the bed too, for the effect.
Melody can’t hide her smile.
“Right, would you like to pick a book now?”
“What, no book?”
“What would you like?”
Melody cracks another smile.
“Okay, last one…. You ready?”
“NO!!!” I shout.
She dissolves in laughter.
I gather my giggling child up in my arms and once she’s stopped laughing, I tell her we are going to lie down on the bed now. I knew that if she wanted a book at that point, she would tell me so – but I suspected the whole tantrum was caused by her being so tired. Without another protest, she settles down next to me.
“Mum?” Melody asks.
I wrap my arms tighter around her.
“Okay okay…” and she wraps her slender arms around my neck.
“Night night, Melody.”
“Night night, Mummy.”
Couple more minutes, and she was fast asleep. I disentangle myself free and just watch her sleep, before I tiptoe back downstairs.
There is another Tantrum Tamer that I’ve used
Instead of explaining it, I just show you the video where I got the idea from.
On a video, Dad is holding a little girl in his arms. The girl is crying. Dad tells her that it’s his turn now and starts to wail himself. The girl stops sobbing and stares at his father (through the screen). Father stops crying and tells the girl it’s her turn to cry now. The girls answers with “no”. Dad takes couple more turns on crying, but the girl is done and doesn’t want to cry anymore.
Melody responds with “NO!” first, then runs to cover my mouth when I “cry”. She’s by then stopped crying herself, so we can have a conversation about what went wrong, why we were upset. Occasionally the conversations go horribly wrong and I find myself witnessing another tantrum… but after a couple of turns with “crying”, we usually do end up fixing the situation for real.
How do I solve the wellies versus sandals issue?
I am not so proud of this one.
Too many times we disagree about the clothing and instead of getting ready to go, we squabble over summer hats or woolly hats, lost socks and sun lotions or if she can bring whatever unpractical toy with her.
There was a time when she didn’t believe I would leave to go to nursery without her.
We had been trying to get ready, but disagreed on I-cant-even-remember-on-what, and I had used all the reasoning power I had and the situation was not resolving. So like a mature adult that I am, I said
“Well, if you are not doing what I ask you to do, I’m going without you.” I paused to see if that made a difference.
“Okay then, bye bye, I’ll see you later!” I got up to my feet, walked to the door, opened it, stepped outside and closed the door.
I heard the wailing scream immediately.
I counted to three and opened the door.
“Would you like to come with me?”
“Yes please,” she sobbed and ran to my arms.
I had no problems getting her dressed the way I needed her, and she was the laughing usual self already on our way to the car.
If I struggle with the same issues now,
all I need to say “Okay, I can go without you then, bye bye” when she then hastily says “No noooo!” and runs to do what I need her to do and off we go.
(Needless to say, this is the very last resort – it would loose it’s magic if I overdid it. Also, I do not want my child to live in a constant fear that I would actually leave her behind [never]).
To warn anyone who sees me and Melody at a supermarket..
I am definitely one of those parents who will throw a “temper tantrum” on a floor just to shut their kid up. If she can do it, so can I.
So far, she’s been too good while shopping. Such a little angel helping me carry my shopping basket, getting my products for me and doing every little bit to help me where she can. But one day.. One day I will find myself on a floor pretending to have a temper tantrum.
What are your trusted Temper Tantrum Tamers?