Monday, October 22, 2007

Daddy Magic: The Anatomy of the Tantrum

This one is devoted to Queen Bug.

I have a two-year old as well. Tantrums come with the age. The trick is to minimize them, shorten them, and make sure they don't last.

We use thousands of tactics to do this, but the best learned lesson is to understand why the tantrum exists.

We vote for a president because we see it being tallied on our TVs. We want to do what we can to put the right person in office. Likewise, we put together a resume, portfolio, and interview because we want the job. If we knew that we wouldn't get the job and that the interview would do no good, we wouldn't take the interview.

Why would you ever try to do something if it was futile? We wouldn't. Sure, we might start doing it, but as soon as we remember and realize that it's pointless, we'd stop.

That's it. That's the secret.

You have to convince your toddler that their tantrum is futile. The only reason why you do anything is because you know that it works. That's the tantrum. The child knows that throwing a tantrum will yield results.

So that's the first step. You need to figure out what you're giving the child. You might just let the child scream until he is done. I have some relatives who did that. It wasn't really helping much. One time, the child was screaming when a police officer walked up and told the child to stop and to respect the parent. The child went silent. A stranger acting on authority was discipline to that child. That's not the attention the child wanted.

My child screams when we put her in the car. She doesn't want to be there. Sometimes I'll take something away from her or take her out of the room. She throws a tantrum.

I immediately discipline her and distract her. It doesn't take long for her to stop. Why?

Because we have a history. Her life is going to steadily get worse until she stops. If she doesn't stop, she's going to be stuck in bed for the rest of her life with periodic spankings and no one anywhere near her to even know that she's screaming. It sounds like torture, and it is. That's why it never has to happen. =^)

The moment you look at your child in a tantrum when you are not engaging in discipline you just gave in to your child's tantrum. The moment that you stay in the ear shot of your child and he knows you can hear him or feel his tantrum if he's flailing at you, your child's tantrum is succeeding. He may not only want his way. He may just settle for making your life miserable with noises and physical actions. That's fine by him. If you allow that, then you are telling him that tantrums are okay.

The only way to stop a tantrum is to constantly take steps to making his life worse. It's discipline. It won't take him long to learn. When he learns that he has nothing to gain and everything to lose, he'll begin to pull back.

That's the essence of the tantrum. That's how it works. You have to be more stubborn than your child if you want him to learn.

Now that's Daddy Magic.


1 comment:

Queen Bug said...

Sorry I didn't see this until now. I'm going to try that. I'll take away whatever she was doing when she had the tantrum. But my question is... your 2 year old.. is her room pretty much bare?