Temper, Temper

The toddler temper tantrum (Latin name Screamus Horribilis) has started to be a larger and larger part of Sophie’s day. What causes this? Some say, not enough sleep. Others, that it’s just part of a childs steps towards independence. Yet others say it’s God’s vengance for our wicked ways. Oops, that’s Pat Robertson talking about New Orleans.

I went through and captured on film (well, a memory card) the elements of the temper tantrum. It was actually pretty theraputic to take pictures of the tantrum rather than try to resolve it.

First, Sophie doesn’t get what she wants – in this case we put together a lunch of known favorites. PeasAndCorn (her term), chicken fingers, and rice. It’s lunch time, and we know she’s hungry. We also know that right after lunch is nap time, so she’s pretty tired. Hungry and Tired, the evil twins of the temper tantrum!

Mix in her desire for the BahBah, and we’re looking at a Category 5!

Bean’s Dad has captured the behavior pretty accurately..and there’s nothing funnier (well, 5 days later) than the Action response of “Wayah! (water)”…give her water…she throws it, yelling, “no wayah!!!!”…”Wayah!”…give her water…she throws it…etc etc ad nauseum (and I mean nauseum!)

Luckily, we were at home, so the screaming didn’t bother us. In fact, taking pictures helped us to feel like we weren’t wasting our time completely during the tantrum. I think I ended up with 6 or 7 of Sophie, a few of Betsy, a few of Maggie, and maybe one or two of our cat.

After about 10 minutes of screaming, with no rhyme or reason, we ended up with Sophie asking for (and actually eating from) her plate. I wish I knew the magic word or action which solved the riddle of the Temper Tantrum….it will remain, I fear, another mystery of the universe.

So, any insight on how to solve the riddle of the Temper Tantrum? Leave a comment!

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1 Comment

  1. Have you tried (now I know this sounds revolutionary) giving in? No, I don’t mean LITERALLY giving her everything she wants, but when you get the yes/no thing going (Emma does it too), have you tried one time saying “OK fine, NO water then” and taking it away until she practically begs for it? Then you say “I’m going to give you this water ONE LAST TIME Sophie, and if you say no again, it’s going away for good.”

    I’ve only had to live up to that promise once or twice, and now when I give her the “BFU” (BIG FAT ULTIMATUM) she knows I’m serious and the yes/no game ends very quickly.

    As for the clothing, another game can be played, but with more limited success as it usually inconveniences Mom or Dad in a big way by slowing down the process considerably. What I do–and it works about 65% of the time, so it’s not foolproof, but worth a shot–is make getting dressed a game. When Emma screams that she doesn’t want a certain item of clothing, I simply change the subject. I’ll say “Emma do it herself?” And I make it suddenly all about the process of getting dressed and not the items. If she says no to this, I say “How about we take turns? Mommy do a sleeve, Emma do a sleeve.” Sometimes this is enough to distract her from what sleeve it happens to be, and we at least get the shirt ON. Same with pants. When this fails, and total meltdown ensues, I usually put her back in her crib as naked as she might be and tell her that naked undressed girls stay home, we don’t take them out to fun things like the playground or classes or anyplace else they want to be. Sometimes the screaming gets worse, but I’m usually out of the room punching a pillow so I hardly notice. Most of the time however, it works. I get pleading cries to come back, and I then say “I don’t respond to whining, ask me in a normal voice without whining and I’ll think about it.”

    As soon as I get “Mommy please” or “Emma get dressed please” I come back and things go much more smoothly.

    The hardest part about tantrums is to decide to be the one to shift gears. It’s so easy to get as caught up in what you want as they are and a battle of wills takes over. The BIG edge we adults have over kids is the ability to change the subject on the fly. Their tiny brains just can’t do it as fast and sometimes that’s all it takes to catch them off guard and with their defenses down. They get to feel a little like they “won” (which is bogus, they didn’t) and you get to continue to move forward.

    A word of caution: These things only work if you literally stop, breathe and THEN try to shift gears. Do it too fast, mid-sentence for example, and it’s all just a blurr to them. Picture Gary Larson’s Far Side dog hearing “Ginger” as “Blah blah blah blah blah play ball blah blah.”

    Good luck! Tantrums are no fun at all!

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