Coping with tantrums

It’s not an unfamiliar scene. You’re walking through the shops and you see some poor parent unable to cope with the epic meltdown of their child which of course just so happens to be in the most public part possible of the shop.

You cringe a little and give them a knowing awkward smile. “Yeah, I feel you. I hope you’re ok” the smile says. Then you walk off secretly shaking your head thinking “Pfft, how can they let their child behave like that.” Yeah, let. LET. Ha!

Then of course you get home only to be met with screams from your own child and you dreadfully remember “Oh yeah…”

Tantrums are the absolute worst, so I’ve come up with a few methods on how to cope.

Let’s go through some of the methods I’ve tried:

The Distraction technique: This one actually works quite well, but only if you hit them with it before a tantrum takes off. Example:

Me: “No you can’t just have biscuits for breakfast”.

Stormy: “But I WANT biscuits for-“.

Me: (picks up banana and says quite loudly and quickly) “Hey, the Hulk really wants to eat this banana! Would you like a banana!? Then you can be like the Hulk!”.

Stormy: “Huh. Hulk eats bananas!?” Problem solved.

The Calm technique: Stay calm. Very calm. Use a calm and soothing voice. Don’t raise your voice. You’re not a yelling person. Be matter of fact. Be simply. Be clear. Do not resort to yelling. Yelling only reinforces bad behaviour and does nothing to correct it.

The Yelling technique: Bah, the calm technique is stupid. Who doesn’t like having a good yell? Your child might be throwing something they shouldn’t after you’ve told them three times not to. Now you raise your voice and start yelling at them about what they did was wrong, and that they’re being naughty or bad. Usually ends with them just screaming back at you how they want to be bad, because they are a bad boy. Example. Stormy: “I WANT to be bad, because I AM a bad BAD boy!!!” Helpful tip, try not to laugh.

The Over Nurturing technique: They’ve done something naughty so you attempt to shower them with love instead to make them feel overwhelmed with security and comfort. Grab them and hug them tight, and whisper to them calmly and clearly what they did was wrong and why it wasn’t acceptable, and how they should act appropriately in the future, but most importantly that you still love them. This technique is usually used after the Yelling technique because you feel like you’re the world’s worst person.

The Pleading technique: Tends to be used after you’ve tried a combination of the first few and you’re at your wits end, or just getting plain desperate. Mostly used in public. “Please darling, other people are judging Mummy!”

The Bribery technique: Is usually used hand in hand with the pleading technique. “If you promise to be good I’ll let you have ice cream for dinner.” Hey, it’s not like they were going to eat dinner anyway.

The I’ll go away forever! technique: Your child is usually the one to start this argument with the screamed remark of “YOU HAVE TO GO NOW!”. My usual response: “That’s fine, I’ll go away forever then. Would you like that?”….yeah, I’m a terrible, terrible person.

The Do Nothing technique: Literally exactly that. Because 9 times out of 10, everything you’ve tried never ever works, and you just have to ride it out like a storm. So sit back, go quiet, ignore and do nothing to acknowledge your child and eventually they’ll just scream themselves out. Tends to be most effective if you’re at home, and you have a child gate on the kitchen, where you can stand with a cup of tea whilst hiding behind the pantry door.

So have I missed any? What techniques have you tried? What worked? Did any work? Seriously, I’m asking HAS ANYTHING ANYONE EVER TRIED WORKED!?

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Discipline

The smell of rebellion. The stench of revolt. The reek of insubordination. The whiff of resistance. The pong of dissent. The funk of mutiny in action! Discipline discipline for children who aren’t listening for midgets who are fidgeting and whispering in history their chattering and chittering their nattering and twittering is tempered with the smattering of discipline!

Wait, wait, wait, wait. Sorry… they’re just the lyrics of The Smell of Rebellion from the musical Matilda (which by the way if you haven’t yet seen or heard, then you need to get on it now because it is AMAZING!). Ok, so I seem to be cheating on my word count there a little. Let me take a second to compose myself- MINCHIN IS A GENIUS! ….ahem.

Stormaggedon turns 3 next month, so we’ve well and truly entered the discipline phase of his journey to becoming a functioning person. I mean obviously he’s been disciplined before, in small ways, and I’ve always pulled him up on any unacceptable behaviour from quite early on. But it’s only now that he’s truly starting to comprehend action and consequences, and the correlation between the two.

Sooooo, anyone got any ideas? Because, holy crap nothing works! I keep thinking of me from about 10 years ago, let’s call her Bitchy-Judgemental-Doesn’t-Know-Anything-About-Anything Face, where I would watch parents in public with their children and think to myself “Why don’t they do X with their child. That should totally solve the problem”. Ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaa! I know, what an idiot!

Ok, I’ll admit that there were a lot of opinions that I held when I was younger about parenting children that I do still hold today, and I have managed to put a lot of those opinions into practise. And I’ll admit, some worked and some didn’t. And so some of my opinions changed. That’s called growing. I’ve spoken before about how opinions you’ve held in the past don’t necessarily have to be the same opinions you have today. You have the right to change your mind. But let’s start with the fact that yes, I still believe that a number of parents out there are either unwilling or unable to discipline their children. There does seem to be a bit of entitlement going on. Those stupid Marvel Discs from Woolworths for example. How many parents did we see writing angry letters to Woolworths claiming how upset their children were because they couldn’t collect all the discs because they “deliberately” made some of them rare. How outraged they were that their poor precious children couldn’t cope with the fact that their collection will now be incomplete, and as such they will DEFINITELY boycott Woolworths FOREVER!

Sigh, first of all, no you won’t. That’s just silly. If you’re going to boycott Woolworths, at least make it for a valid reason. Like the fact they keep calling themselves the “Fresh food people”, and yet every time you buy a capsicum from them, and cut into it THE SAME DAY, it’s always furry and mouldy on the inside! (breath in red, breath out pink, breach in red, breath out pink) Secondly, maybe try the old tried and true method of “There are children starving in Africa, you can live without the Black Panther disc”. Blaming Woolworths is not going to solve the problem of poor behaviour, and in my opinion will only enforce it.

However, I’ve found regardless of how you’ve prepared your child on how to behave I’ve realised one thing: No matter what you do they will all react the same. Basically, children are jerks regardless of what you do.

So how do we discipline them then? Well, saying no and sticking to the no is a good start. Let’s all practise saying it together. No. Doesn’t that feel good? Pretend your child is your boss. Now again, NO. Oh yeah, feels good doesn’t it. Just a strong, firm and stern No.

Make threats you will actually follow through with. “If you don’t stop fighting in the back I’m going to turn this car around and we won’t go on our holiday!” No you’re not. We all know you want that holiday as much as your kids do, plus you’ve spent all that money to pay for it. Try “If you don’t stop, we won’t go to that favourite place, or the movie we promised, or no dessert after dinner”. Also don’t try “We will never go on holiday again” – again an empty threat, one that they will soon work out you don’t mean.

Don’t send them to their room, all their good stuff is in there. Perhaps send them outside, the fresh air and sunshine should do them good. Unless of course the bad behaviour started out in the fresh air and sunshine. Then I’m really stumped.

Set clear boundaries that they can understand and easily comply with. Take a toy away and tell them they won’t get it back until they stop doing X, or apologise and mean it, or they do three nice things without asking.    

Tell them their behaviour is unacceptable, or disrespectful, or rude. But actually tell them what they did that was wrong and explain it to them. I have a clear memory of having a reward star sticker chart at home when I was about 6 years old. I had to earn a certain number of stars by the end of two weeks, and then I would get a reward. But if I was naughty I would get crosses and then wouldn’t get the reward. One particular outing we came home and my mum gave me 7 crosses. To this day I still don’t know what I did wrong. She didn’t tell me, she just said she was disappointed with how I behaved and crossed away on my chart. Seriously Mum, what they hell did I do!? So, if you explain to your child what was wrong, and why it was wrong you can give them the opportunity to change their behaviour. Instead of just being plain confused 27 years later.

Accept that sometimes no matter what you do, they will just continue with their poor behaviour. Point is, be there to guide and try your hardest.

But most importantly, don’t let them steal your horses, no, don’t let them throw them away, no! If you find your way through they’ll be waiting for you singing neigh, neigh, n- wait, hold on. Sorry, that was Smell of Rebellion again.

Anyway, happy disciplining everyone!

PS. If anyone has a spare $89, I do have a spare no. 42 Hulk disc that I’m willing to sell.