Professional mom seeking clarity, balance and a well deserved glass of wine.
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It’s my 4-1/2 year old cherub. I don’t know what happened, but suddenly there’s a short circuit in her brain and I’m ready to call in Super Nanny. (this phenomenon is especially frustrating when I have a morning meeting to get to…I don’t have time to coddle and coax. I’ve got to go!)
You know that nursery rhyme, “The Little Girl with the Curl”; my daughter is quickly becoming the poster child for this Mother Goose fave. When she’s good, she’s very very good. When she’s bad, all hell breaks loose. That’s not exactly how the rhyme goes, but you get the picture.
For years I’ve been one of THOSE people who gives the evil eye to THOSE ill-mannered children throwing a fit in the store or causing such a disturbance that I try and blow them up with my mind powers. Well, paybacks are a bitch, aren’t they?! Now, don’t get me wrong…there are parents who allow their children to hit them, yell at them and generally display a lapse in the respect department. I am not one of THESE parents. I am still hard at work on a mind-power decimation plan to wipe them out completely.
However, I have a tantrum dilemma. I’m trying to figure out how choosing an outfit in the morning before school can change my little “Linda Blair” into a green-faced, growling, head-spinning little demon. EXORCIST, party of one!! I’m sure I had some of these issues with my oldest, but sadly the rose-colored glasses are dimming my memory of what I did to counteract this tiny terrorist-like behavior. I’ve been doing some research, reading, crying, praying and consuming large quantities of wine (a cure for most plights) and here’s some damn good advice from Deborah Cruz that’s already started working for me. I hope it works for you.
(thank you Deborah Cruz)
Copy The Tantrum: Lie on the floor next to your thrashing child and mimic their behavior. If that means stomping your feet, screaming until you are red-faced or actng like a complete loon, do it. This behavior shocks them and, if you’re in public, it will embarrass them as well. [better try this at home; if I did this in the school parking lot I’m pretty sure they’d drag me away and get out the straight jacket]
More from The Stir: Your Toddler’s Temper Tantrum Can Be Decoded
Ignore It: Tell your child that you can’t hear him when he is being whiny. It may even help if you speak to him in a Donald Duck voice. The voice will throw him off balance and then you can swoop in for a little distraction. [I tried this recently and it worked really really well…thank you Kermit, Elmo and Cookie Monster for lending me your voices for 10 minutes]
Distract (Bait & Switch): Begin singing, Baby got back as loudly as possible while shaking your butt. If your kid does not immediately start laughing, sing louder. She will stop what she’s doing and start laughing. Tantrum over. [my kids would laugh hysterically because I have no “back”; I choose Bust A Move]
Stay Calm: I won’t lie, I am NOT the Mom who gets down on my knees with an unlimited supply of patience and understanding. I am not. But if you can just count to 10 before you react, you may be surprised how much that few seconds can help your child realize that you aren’t going to respond to irrational behavior. Plus, if you stand completely still and silent or lie on the couch with your eyes closed, she will be more concerned with your well being. Tantrum averted. [in other words, play dead! this could also come in handy if you’re just too tired to have sex…just sayin’]
Walk Away: If your child starts to throw a tantrum in a public place, tell them you are leaving. I don’t care if you’re there to pick up that kid’s birthday cake on the way to the party … walk away. He needs to know that you mean business. You’ve got to follow through so that he knows that you are not going to let this behavior go unpunished. I won’t lie. Once I waited in line for a ride for an hour and at the point of entry, my child decided to talk back. We left the line. I was punished too but sometimes, you have to take one for the team. [this tactic is most effective when they can’t see you, so you may have to walk a mile or two; scare the shit out of them]
Shock & Awe: If all else fails, sometimes insanity needs to be met with equal insanity. I call this the “shock and awe” tactic. Your child has thrown herself on the floor because you asked her to pick up a toy. Or you are on the phone and junior decides to throw himself on the floor and scream bloody murder. With every plea, he gets louder. Promptly take your faucet hose sprayer and spray junior in the face. Shock! And when he gets startled and starts to cry, “Why did you do that?” Spray him again. Awe! Tantrum diffused. [effective on dogs and children]
“Demons, come out in the name of the Lord!”
Stay sane, my friends.
This is so funny! Not only am I going to print this to remember it, and yes my kids are too old for tantrums but they forget that sometimes. I have actually used the Shock and Awe method with the faucet hose sprayer. I am NOT a get on my knees with a quiet, soothing voice and loads of patience mom either. The hose sprayer feels really, really good. At least to me.
Oh boy … is your timing ever perfect. My almost 5-yr old daughter had a doozy of a tantrum this week. She really pulled out all the stops. I can only wonder if it would have ended sooner if I had copied her when she was in hysterics stomping her feet and thrashing on the floor.
One other thing that has worked (occasionally) for us, is to threaten to report her behavior to her preschool teacher (it’s as effective as threatening to call Santa). She is such an angel at school (really), the last thing she wants is for her teacher to think she is less-than-perfect at home. I have seen this tactic shut off her waterworks in a matter of seconds.