Written by: Katya on 05/04/17
Tantrums. You just can’t get enough of them, can you? Not really! To be honest, it drives me mad whenever my 3-year-old pulls a tanty over silly things like: how mummy cooked her pancakes “too brown “or how I didn’t put enough nutella on her toast; or how I put her dress on “backwards” since the label should be in front… and the list goes on and on! Sometimes, I ask myself “are there any other styles of parenting that could make this a whole lot easier?!”
I read in one of those “good parenting tips forums” that tantrums should be dealt with love and humour. I completely agree with this; but sometimes it just gets too frustrating when tantrums pile on like dishes on the sink. It can get stressful, and sometimes can push you to the brink of exploding.
However, kiddie tantrums are a part of a child’s growing up years (and yes, your good parenting skills will be put to the test.) It’s a natural occurrence. Since they are not yet able to communicate how they feel in a way that is composed and polite, they let out their own frustrations in the form of emotional outbursts (as if grown-ups aren’t guilty of this! Haha!) I have resigned myself to the idea that parents can’t and shouldn’t expect their toddlers to act like adults no matter how much they try to condition them to be well-mannered and poised all the time should they wish to address certain issues that contradict their own beliefs. The values we try to instill in our kids as parents will grow on them overtime as long as we maintain some sort of consistency and loving encouragement. (I may not be a parenting expert, but I grew up in a family of 5 siblings and I’ve seen how my brothers and sisters developed throughout the years.)
Matt and I usually handle Kaela’s tantrums at home with ease. We make it a point to discourage these by not acknowledging the continued cries and hysterical floor-rolling after telling her – in a loving demeanor – for the gazillionth time, that she can’t get what she wants right now (ie. wanting to dress as Olaf for bedtime) The more you acknowledge certain behavior, the more kids are inclined to get on with the charade until you finally throw your hands up in the air and GIVE IN. Every parent has their own set of parenting styles. Some go by their instincts and some go by what the parenting professionals advise. The most important thing is standing your ground and letting your child know that they can’t get away with murder all the time 🙂
Anyway, my own composure was put to the test when the four of us (bubba included) went to the mall as part of our family “Sunday Fun day” routine a couple of months ago. After a nice lunch, we all headed to the hair salon so Kaela and Matt could get a haircut while Taj and I patiently waited in the corner. When Kaela was done with hers, I asked her to sit beside me. Unfortunately, she decided she wanted an ice cream that minute. We told her we had to wait for daddy to finish then we could go and get her some. She wasn’t taking “you have to wait” for an answer and immediately threw herself to the floor and started wailing and kicking in the air. I was mortified. No matter what Matt or I said to comfort her to make her stop crying didn’t seem to do anything to pacify the unwavering episode before us. She only cried harder. Everyone in the salon started looking at her… then at ME. I felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment and defeat. To make matters worse, Taj started crying too. In a shaky voice, I apologised to those who were still looking, put the baby in the pram, took Kaela’s hand with a firm yet gentle grasp enough to bring her to a standing position, then headed towards the exit. “See you outside,” I mouthed to my husband which was acknowledged by a knowing nod. I was afraid of drawing more unsolicited attention, but her tear-streaked face suddenly lightened up by the sight of a merry-go-round not too far away. I heaved a sigh of relief as I pushed a $2 dollar coin into the machine while Kaela gladly hopped onto one of the seats.
That sudden diversion was a blessing!
I felt like a complete and utter failure. Those ladies at the salon must’ve sneered and jeered at my “good parenting skills.”
My thoughts were cut when Kaela’s ride ended and she demanded for another one. I told her that if she keeps talking to mummy like that, she won’t get what she wants. I saw her face drop and before another outburst could occur, Matt appeared behind me and told us that it was time to go home.
“I still want my ice cream,” Kaela said
“Sorry, Kaela. You’ve been really naughty today. You’re not getting any. Let’s go.”
“OK, daddy,” she said politely as she took Matt’s hand and started skipping all the way to the carpark – as if nothing happened!
I let out another sigh. I could wish to never experience that again, but I know it’s not going to happen. At least, not in the next 2 years or so.
So, looking back, what have I learned in all this (and what to apply before the next tantrum occurs?)
1.- I learned to TRY my best in keeping my cool in situations like this. A child won’t calm down unless her “role model” isn’t calm. Get yourself under control before reacting. The 10-second rule works!
2.- That immediate diversions are lifesavers (you can deal with them “properly” when you get home. Hah!)
3.- That you don’t need to feel inadequate as a parent. Tantrums happen. That’s just the way it is. You don’t have to keep blaming yourself for being a “failure” just because of your child’s public display of rage. You know that you’re doing what’s best for your children – in and outside of your home – and no one can ever tell you how much you suck. You don’t. You’re doing great!
4.- Although society has conditioned us to think that our children are a reflection of ourselves, we are not to be held accountable for the decisions they make; rather, we are responsible for how we choose to deal with their choices. Yelling or being stressed will only amplify the heat of the moment. Bear in mind that you are your child’s role model. Since they can’t handle their emotions yet, it is our duty to help them learn how to do just that.
5.- Do not – I repeat – DO NOT GIVE IN to your child’s requests during an outburst. They will only cling on to the pattern that they can get away with murder when they scream and be out of control. Be steadfast, clear, and calm.
6.- Use empathy. Some kids are receptive towards empathy, while others aren’t. The more you try to comfort them, the more they see it as a loophole to cry some more. My advice for new parents is that the best way to do this is to go down on eye level and tell them something like “I understand that you want (insert need here) and I know it’s very frustrating, honey…” Empathy goes a long way. It shuts down the possibility of escalating the situation to newer heights. It allows your child to hear you and also lowers the level of your own frustration.
What about you, mumsies? How do you usually deal with temper tantrums? What are your parenting styles that have worked? What hasn’t? Feel free to share your experiences on the comments section below..
‘Til the next post!
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