You are shopping at the mall, looking at the great deals in the home section, which are 60% off. Your child is on the shopping cart, reading a book that you packed (among other five, just to be on the safe side) in his bag, two minutes before leaving home. Suddenly, a displeasing sound, like a fly’s buzzing, bothers you making you lose your focus on the amazing sales.
A warning alert that says: “WARNING! Bored child” turns on along with all your senses.
– “Uggh, ahhh, argh, aarrghh” – Your kid starts complaining.
You approach your little one, and tell him:
– “What’s wrong? Are you getting bored? Or, do you want to read another book? Look, isn’t that bee cute? what color is it?”
He gives it a glance and turns every page of the book without even looking at it. Then he proceeds to close the book, followed by a:
– “No! No books!”
So, you think that he probably doesn’t want to read that book. Since you’ve packed in his bag the animals one, and that’s his favorite, you know it won’t fail. To your surprise, however, he throws the book on the floor, and that’s when you know that he won’t read anymore.
You take a deep breath, omit what just happened, and say: “calm down, things don’t get thrown away”.
The whining becomes more constant and now all the child wants is to get out of the shopping cart. You obviously won’t bring him down. First; because you’re alone, second; you were only shopping, and lastly; you just don’t want to chase him around the store. Therefore, you give him a toy so that he has something to play with while you continue to shop.
– “Wow, look! What is it?” – you said cheerfully.
– “Giraffe!” – The little one says
– “Yes, that’s a giraffe plush! Touch it; it has such a long tail, right?
Press that button so you can see what it does.”
You laugh, pretend to be a clown, become the actor/actress of his favorite T.V show, etc. But nothing seems to work. The little kid, instead, decides to grab the giraffe plush and kindly put it inside the shopping cart, followed this time by a:
Thankfully, you knew this was going to happen and you went prepared for this. You grab his bag and take out a strawberry-banana yogurt. But he obviously doesn’t want yogurt, because he always likes yogurt and love the strawberry-banana one, but not today, mom! Today is not your day. He asks for what you don’t have there with you; a peach.
– “No, no yogurt! I want a peach! ” – He claims.
– “I don’t have any peaches with me, but I brought this yogurt for you. If you want it, just let me know.” – You kindly say.
The most important thing to do here, is to keep him distracted, you can use busy books/activity books, toys or else, or try satisfying his needs. Maybe he wants to use the bathroom (or needs a diaper change), is feeling tired, sleepy or hungry. He starts crying out, you want to take another deep breath and try not to let your patience go away. One, two… you can’t even count to three, because in less than three seconds, he starts crying like the worst thing ever has just happened to him. Well, that’s true though, at that age not being able to get out of the shopping cart is such the worst thing ever.
Time passes by and he just cries louder and louder, he kicks, hits everything and you can only feel how your body temperature increases, ‘til you feel your head HOT. Your ears are burning and your heart’s about to explode. Yes, it’s official, your kid’s in the middle of a tantrum and your patience is gone, especially when he’s doing it in front of 20 people. At this point, you’re done and don’t want to know anything about positive discipline, respectful child-rearing, attachment parenting, or tips on “how not to lose your mind while your child is having a tantrum”, or anything else that possibly has to do with taking a deep breath and start over. Unfortunately the only things one use to think about, are: “I won’t give him cookies till next week”, “I’m not going to let him watch T.V for the rest of the month”, “everyone says he needs to be slapped, should I do it this time?”
What to do when your
child throws a tantrum?
- This is something that I’ve been struggling to understand (and I still don’t get it sometimes): You’re the adult! Yes, you have the right to feel frustrated, exhausted and stressed, but by responding to your child’s tantrum by shouting or hitting him, you’re just normalizing physical or verbal abuse. Violence doesn’t always involve blood and bruises. The definition of violence is: a behavior involving physical force to achieve an end. So yes, even a small slap is considered that.
Your kid might calm down, listen to you and obey, but he’ll do so because of the impact the shout or hit had on him, and not because he actually understood what he did wrong.
- If you’ve tried to understand your child, have guided him, supported him, listened to him and finally, you’ve explained why you can’t fulfill his requests, but he cries, and keeps crying, then let him cry. Sometimes, we just cannot do everything they want, when they want. At the end of the day they’ll understand that crying is not the solution and by doing it they can’t fix anything.
- Don’t try to stop your child’s crying with things that you already said NO to. This will only make him confused and he won’t understand when you really mean “no”. For example: you told him you were NOT going to buy him that toy he wanted, he cried for 10-15 minutes, and you ended up buying it. That was not only a waste of time, but you also made him cry for nothing.
- Try not to say things like: “If you stop crying, then I’ll get you a candy”, “ If you calm down, then I’ll buy you that toy”, “If you eat your veggies, then I’ll take you to the park”. I personally have said all of them, and yes, it has perfectly worked for me! However, there’s such a big difference between what is convenient for us and what is actually good for them. Because of I’ve been in that place before, I’d say:
*Knowing how to calm down is priceless, and it shouldn’t have a reward. Even for us, as adults, is hard to calm down when we are stressed, anxious or upset about any situation that has affected us in a negative way. I consider the best thing to do in this case, is to give your child his personal space and wait for him to calm down by himself, (if there’s nothing we can really do to help him or he doesn’t want to stop crying) always checking on him and making sure he’s in a safe place with no access to dangerous or harmful objects.
*Your child needs to eat because it’s a basic need, and he needs plenty of nutrients in order to get enough energy, and not because if he eats, then you’ll take him to the park. This might sound very difficult to understand for a 2-year-old, that’s why I tell Aggie, “you need to eat so that you feel good to play”. If you tell your child that if he eats, then you’ll take him to the park, it might sound like eating is a punishment.
Try to empathize with your child. Let’s say, there’s something you want, but someone doesn’t want to give it to you, and it makes you feel sad. You can only attempt to cry, because your frustration is real, however, this person’s just yelling at you. You haven’t done anything bad at all, besides crying because you REALLY want that. How would you feel? Discipline doesn’t mean to yell out, just as not yelling out doesn’t mean you’re justifying his behavior. It is important to establish rules and limits, but let’s try to always do it from the heart and if possible, with patience.
I always try to implement this at home and do my best to understand my daughter and her needs, as much as I can. The ones who know me, don’t believe I’m the person writing this, since I lack patience, and it’s Aggie who’s been helping me on this matter. It’s not about being the best parent in the world but being the best parent for child.