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Temper Tantrum Tactics

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I have to say that I was more than a little bit irritated while listening to the local radio station on my way in to work this morning. I was actually kind of, well, furious. I tuned in and they were taking tips from moms on how to stop a temper tantrum, or how they react to a kid’s temper tantrum. Here are a few of the suggestions:

• Tell them Santa is watching and if they keep it up, there will be no presents.
• Pick them up and hold them tight giving them tons of kisses and hugs
• If the tantrum is about wanting something in the store, offer them something else to quiet them down. That way, they’re not winning, but they’re still happy and quiet.
• If in public, walk away so that you’re out of sight and make your child think you left them there. Scare the tantrum right out of them.

And my personal favorite, and the only point where the radio personality cut the caller off:

• If it’s a bad tantrum, where they begin to hyperventilate, jam your knuckles in to the child’s chest to “shock them out of it”, or pinch them with your fingernail, or splash water in their face.

I’m not intending to pass judgment here, although, ultimately it will come off sounding like I am. I realize that different things work for different children and that everyone has a different parenting style, and that this was a random sampling of parents in my area, but I can’t see how any of these are good ideas. You child knows you are full of crap when you pull the Santa card. Believe me. My own mother would pull that crap out in July. Your kid knows they’re getting presents regardless. Picking them up and hugging and kissing the tantrum right out of them….what? Giving the child something else but not what they want so “you are the winner” does not seem like the way to go either. Somehow I don’t think it’s about winning. And as far as I’m concerned, shocking or scaring a child out of a tantrum is abuse.

Here is my personal policy on tantrums- they are not allowed. That is not to say that my kids don’t throw tantrums, because on occasion, they do. We all have our moments, right? When a tantrum does come on, Ed and I are consistent in our approach. If we are at home, the child is welcome to cry and carry on, so long as they do it in the privacy of their bedroom. Once they have pulled themselves together, we will discuss what has occurred and what the resolution should be. If we are in public, whether it’s a store, church or party, the child is removed from the situation. No questions asked, and again, we discuss it once they have calmed down. We also set the expectation of what is going to occur before going someplace, i.e. “We are going to Target to buy a gift for your cousin. That is all we are buying today.” Giving it to them straight, up front, goes a long way with my kids.

Again, I’m lucky in that my kids aren’t tantrum throwers. Perhaps I’d have a different perspective if they were, or if I’d experienced some of the extreme behavior others talk about. The reality is that they’re a product of their environment and I’m a strong believer in the fact that my kids behave the way that they do because of the way we interact with them. This may not be the case for other people, I don’t know. I’m definitely not judging the parents of kids who do act out because like I said, all kids are different.(Unless you’re letting them scream in church and not taking them out. Then I am judging you.) I do know some great parents whose kids have horrendous tantrums.

What does everyone else out there think? How do you deter the temper tantrum?

Girls on Motorcycles

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I remember taking a sociology class in college where it was stated that children are not predisposed to act a certain way based on their gender, but actually are molded to act like boys and girls by their parents pushing stereotypical gender based toys/clothes/shows (etc.) at them. Even back then, before having kids, I disagreed. I argued that a person is set up to be who they are regardless of gender and regardless of being given trucks or dolls to play with.

As a child, I had dolls and your basic girly toys, but I found them to be quite boring. Friends would often get upset with me because I would be all about setting up the Barbie house and furniture and arranging it just right, but I had no actual interest in playing Barbie’s. I hated dressing them up and making them talk or go out or whatever. How freaking lame, right? I didn’t want to play in a toy kitchen or use a fake vacuum (are you insane?). I liked playing make believe; I would pretend that I was camping with my stuffed animals, or that I was in a singing competition. Even at a young age I would just hang out and listen to music. I would have much rather played by myself than with a group of kids any day, and I was lucky to have a brother who was the same as me; content to chill or be by himself.

And guess what? I turned out ok! I’m not some kind of psychopath loner; I’m actually a good mom!

I admit that I put Caitlyn in dresses quite a bit, and dress her in pink and purple 98% of the time. I’ve bought her dolls and put her hair in pig tails. I’ve set her up to be the biggest princess there ever was. Despite what I have done, Caitlyn prefers to be dirty. She prefers Diego over Dora. She loves to dig and steal her brother’s trucks. She is loud and extremely outspoken (even at age 2). Regardless of what I dress her in, she always grabs her baseball cap and puts it on backwards. She also sets her stuffed animals around our table and feeds them and brings them milk. She wraps her babies in her blanket and lies them down and runs their backs. She pretends to cook in her little kitchen. I know that I’m doing something right with her because she feels free to be an individual and do her own thing, but she also has the desire to mimic me, and be a little mommy.

It’s hard to put Eddie’s personality in print. While he does all the things a typical boy is “supposed” to do (which include being dirty, loud, and maniacal at times) he is a truly sensitive soul. He’s 3 ½ now and still wants to curl up on my lap and twirl my hair. He likes to sit and have a conversation with you, and talk about his feelings. He carries a pink Dora backpack to school every day and doesn’t care. He sings and dances and loves to watch anything with music on TV. When they play dress up at school, the first thing he goes for is a denim skirt. And you know what? He plays trucks, pretends he is a monster, wrestles and loves to watch NASCAR with his dad. He likes nothing better than watching bulldozers do work.

I went outside last night to see what he and Grandpa were up to and he ran up to me and gave me a huge hug and a great big smile.

“I want to be just like you, Mommy” he says

“Me? How come?” (I think he’s about to tell me that I’m great)

“I want to wear dresses and be a girl.”

“You do?”

“Oh yeah, I want to wear dresses”

“Well, you’re already a boy and boys don’t really wear dresses.”

“Ok Mommy.”

He thinks for a minute.

“Well, can girls ride motorcycles?”