TANTRUMS BE GONE
By Brian Burgess, Forefront Families
When we were toddlers some of us received an Emmy Award for our performance in Tantrums 1, the movie. Some of us strove to get in the Guinness Book of Records by throwing tantrums in the greatest number of settings, with special mention in the supermarkets. Some of us got awards for how angry we made our parents. Still others topped the ratings for the number of tut-tuts our parents received from on-lookers who condemned them in their minds, but were too scared to share their feelings out loud. Usually these occurrences were before we turned three, but unfortunately, I hear, there are still school-aged children who slip through the parent cordon and unload their polished tantrum skills on their school teachers and administration.
Those that won the childhood Emmys have often become so amazingly talented that they continue tantrums through their adult life without so much of a tinge of guilt, shame or remorse. What is the reason for tantrums? It's usually because a person can't get their way. It often happens in toddlerhood when a child's ability to express their wants or feelings finds no other way of getting their parent's attention than to make a total fool of themselves. You're reduced to a screaming, heebie-jeebie-induced, face-covering, pulling-your-own-hair-out-parent. Oh, it can be so embarrassing at times!
Tommy was a four-year-old. His Mom and Dad despaired at his on-going, all-out, tantrum-throwing little self. Of course, he would always select a time and place where it was the hardest spot to deal with the problem, like when you had guests in your home, in church, a restaurant, the supermarket and other public places. There were times when the parents wanted to hold the child up and yell out, "Who owns this kid? Come and get him now before we have to deal with him!"
Tommy's parents were no strangers to discipline and had unloaded their full toolbox of tricks on him to extinguish this persistent, unacceptable behavior. They yelled. They spanked. They gave time out. Shame and scolding had no effect and neither did sitting in a corner, like little Jack Horner! Nothing was working so far and the tantrums continued. Finally exasperated they decided to try nothing. That's right, absolutely nothing! While the performance of a lifetime was being enacted dad continued to read the newspaper and didn't even blink. Realizing he wasn't making an impression on his dad Tommy stood up and flung himself on the floor near his mother. He looked like a fly on its back throwing the last leg thrusts before being transported to fly heaven. Mom continued to do her work with not the least bit of recognition. After another minute Tommy stopped his antics, got up and has never thrown a tantrum again. It worked. You see, if there's no audience, tantrums don't work. Children love it when you have a performance of your own worthy of an award as a reaction to their behavior.
As an alternative method I have also suggested to some parents that they do a super-performance next to their child. Cast yourself onto the floor. Fling your legs and arms around like a cheer-leading squad. Yell, scream and make it look as good as you are getting from your child. Try videoing their performance if there is another scene and show it to them later. One parent did the first one with an older child in a public park where there was a lot of people. She said she put on a great show. She was brave, but the child never did it again. I wonder why? If this is your reality, try one of the methods above and surprise yourself.
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