TANTRUMS!!!!

Cathy - posted on 10/17/2013 ( 3 moms have responded )

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My 3 1/2 year old has a short fuse! He screams and cries so loud when he doesn't get his way that I think my neighbors might call the police on me for child abuse. This morning he wanted a cookie for breakfast and when he didn't get it he had a full blown tantrum. I put him in his room and told him that he can come out once he calms down. I ignored the behavior that went on in his room but at the same time I'm concerned for my 13 month old. Can witnessing this type of behavior be damaging to my baby?

Tonight, another tantrum. It is a battle to get him to use the bathroom before bedtime. So I am guilty of bribing him with 1 m&m. This usually works but tonight he deliberately peed all over himself and then demanded his m&m. I refused to give it to him but Dad had enough of his behavior and just gave in to him to settle him. At the same time, my other baby is sleeping and I was worried that his tantrum would wake him. I know we shouldn't have given in but he was tired and was making too much chaos. Are we sending him mixed messages?

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Heidi - posted on 10/22/2013

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You are absolutely right- those are mixed messages coming from both you and the dad. Good for you for recognizing that! A unified and consistent "front" is so important when disciplining children. I don't think that you need to be worried about your 13 month old witnessing it, though. Your other little one needs and wants to be loved. Make sure that you are doing that, and gently explain that his brother is unhappy about the "no cookies for breakfast rule," and he will be able to come out when he is done making so much noise and is ready to talk about it. Reassure your 13 month old that you still love his big brother, no matter what.

Children that use their lungs to scream their way into getting what they want are terribly hard to deal with! That is the way they try to manipulate and take control of their world.
My best advice is to take some time for you and your husband together to talk about how you want to raise your children. Do it when you are not under pressure to stop a tantrum, because you want to have a nice, calm conversation. One thing that I learned from raising three children (they are now in their twenties!) is that we usually raise children that are much smarter than we are! (I tell my daughters that I did this on purpose, so they don't have any reason to be too proud or smug!) If screaming as loud as he can gets your son what he wants, then he is sure to learn that VERY quickly. In fact, he probably already will have that figured out even before you or your husband realize that he has you both "trained," LOL!

The good news, however, is that once he learns that screaming for what he wants doesn't work, he will likely STOP. But both of you will have to be very consistent once you have decided that this won't work anymore, because each time you give in, you've just set yourself up for the same thing to happen many more times- only WORSE!

The old saying, "Parenting is not for cowards" holds true here: If you give in to the screaming, this is what you are setting yourself up for:
- screaming tantrums in the grocery store when he wants a candy
- screaming tantrums when he doesn't wish to be left with a babysitter
- screaming tantrums if he doesn't not wish to go to school or do homework
- screaming tantrums when he doesn't want to go to bed
- screaming tantrums when he doesn't want to eat the dinner you prepared
etc., etc., etc.!

I think that since you asked this question, you probably already knew this, didn't you? But now your husband needs to learn it, and buy into it- or you will be dealing with this for a VERY long time. And a tantrum from a very small boy is one thing, but a "tantrum" from a rebellious teenager is another thing entirely! It's best to settle on a way to get him under control that you can both agree on and feel good about before you have both of your children using this terrible tantrum tool against you and have full control over your lives! Children have a way of playing one parent against another, so it's best for your relationship if you get the issue solved quickly.

I recently read a book by Ronald Mah called The One Minute Temper Tantrum Solution, and it had TONS of great suggestions for calming children down that are in the midst of tantrums such as this. But the greatest thing I took away from the book is that there is always a REASON for the tantrum. But the problem is that young children have a very hard time expressing their feelings in a socially acceptable way. Find the real reason for it, and eliminate it or prevent it, and you will not have a tantrum anymore!

Here is where you can find it on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/The-One-Minute-Tem...

Good luck to you!
Heidi Butkus
www.heidisongs.com

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Heidi - posted on 10/22/2013

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You are so right- it is easier said than done!
I am a teacher, too, and I think that we see the effects of our decisions play out yearly, and we start to recognize what is going on more readily than others. But of course, you know that you will need your husband's support to fight battles like the ones your son is giving you!
PIcking your battles is a good idea, as long as it doesn't undermine your ability to deal with future battles... don't you think?
I'm sure you have heard of this, but you may want to try to give your son a couple of options when he is getting stubborn about things like breakfast. "Would you like cereal or toast?" might be easier for him than, "NO! You may NOT have a cookie! Today we are having eggs." I'm sure you get the idea...
:)
Heidi

Cathy - posted on 10/22/2013

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Thank you for your insightful reply. You have been very helpful. We have discussed the tantrum situation a great deal and agree that consistency is key. However, easier said than done! My husband knows this but still thinks that at times we have to pick and choose our battles with him. I'm having a hard time getting through to Dad. As a teacher I deal with difficult children all the time, but this is all new to him. Sometimes he makes me question myself. Hopefully, the book you suggested with help us both. Thanks again.

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