Sunday, December 12, 2010

Major Freak-out

The last week or so, The Boy has decided to throw a major s&&tfit about random things. Usually, it's triggered by the potty; he throws a near sterotypical temper tantrum. I'm talking about a television-style tantrum: stomping feet, flailing arms and hands, eyes squeezed shut and crying, snot running down his face, screaming at the top of his lungs "I NOT go potty! I don't like the potty! I don't need go potty! I NOT!"

Nothing better to have the heart of your heart screaming in your ear, hitting at you, and preparing to poop his pants at the same time. It's just great.

The things that have caused tantrums this week: potty (#1 on the hit parade this week), putting on clothes (pants in particular), going upstairs or downstairs from where he is currently playing, bedtime, going out for lunch / breakfast, going to the store or other errands, going to a party to be with friends, and playing with new toys. In short, pretty much anything.

What causes tantrums? I've been lead to believe that the tantrums are caused by The Boy trying to exert control over his surroundings and the people around him. I get that. The one for whom I feel the worst is my wife; I'm just not around during the day, so I only get them for the last couple of hours of wakefulness. This means that it's easy for me to smile, get down on a knee, and hug through the tears and tantrum. It's a lot easier for me NOT to get mad at this behavior, because it doesn't necessarily impact the plans for the rest of my day. It still sucks, but The Boy (in particular) will frequently calm down when he gets a Daddy hug and nice, calm, soft Daddy talking and questions.

My wife said, last week, "You're so gentle with him all the time! I wish I could do that." My response: It's easy. Just be out of the house until 4:30PM every day. When you're working all day, it's easy to be patient and kind, because you've been dealing with work issues all day. A bad day with kids is still usually more fun than a good day at work. Then again, a bad day with kids isn't that bad - we've been through bad days (bad count days, bad PICU stays, bad chemo reactions, bad surgeries), and angry, tantruming children doesn't even make the top 20.

I wish I knew what the secret is, to avoid the tantrum entirely. I know that it's in presentation and timing; getting him to get excited about a trip or an activity is directly related to the timing and the manner of presentation. Two nights ago, The Boy tantrumed about brushing his teeth. I took his toothbrush, put toothpaste on it, and walked away, pretending to brush my teeth. He got very irate, saying, "No, Daddy! That's for The Boy!" He took the toothbrush from me and brushed his teeth happily. That doesn't always work, but - for one shining, glorious moment - I convinced him to avoid the full monty tantrum and do what was required.

Today, we went on a mini-shopping trip with Younger Bro that included lunch at Eat 'N' Park. The Boy didn't come with us, because he threw enough of a tantrum that he had to stay home with no television, computer, or easel. smh. We missed him, and we need to show him that his actions have consequences. The only thing is, I hope we don't teach him that he can stay home at will...


Johanna S said...

I wish I had something insightful to say! As you know, my daughter is just a few weeks younger than The Boy. She doesn't throw many tantrums, but she is doing something recently that I really don't know how to handle. She talks about seeing my mom and about going to her house, but when my mom is present, she won't acknowledge her, won't talk to her, turns her face if my mom speaks to her, etc. You'd think she was an absolute brat. She doesn't do this with anyone else, only my mom. I'm so confused! Today I told her we're not going to my mom's house until we can be nice to grandma and that grandma is sad. I don't even know if that was the right thing to do or not. I've asked if something is making her sad or angry. Long story short, I'm confused too! I wish I had more to say! Some argue that kids our kids' age don't understand consequences or that we shouldn't even use consequences. I think many times our kids are smarter/more aware than we think! Maybe you can say something like kids that go to the potty can go with mom and dad on such and such outing? Good luck and I hope the tantrummy kid goes on vacation and your sweet kid comes back soon!

Brandon said...

"What causes tantrums? I've been lead to believe that the tantrums are caused by The Boy trying to exert control over his surroundings and the people around him. I get that"

Congrats , your son is normal and going thru the terrible.