Monday, August 21, 2006

Casting A Wide Net

I haven't had a chance to ask my parenting guru, so I'm asking you...

What do you do SHOULD YOU do when your child gets to the phase where he or she:

  • points at you;
  • stamps his or her feet;
  • yells "NO, MOMMY!" at the top of his or her lungs; and
  • propels his or herself into a full blown, raging fit?
I'm sure all who have parented before me are familiar with THE FIT OF ALL FITS. Seriously, what are "good" parents supposed to do?

My strategy so far has been to blink repeatedly in disbelief.

As you might imagine, this does nothing to alleviate the situation.

The Mayor is just over two and for the most part is a congenial, agreeable kid. But there are times when he goes all Damien the Omen XI on me. He truly seems to be having an out of body experience while Beelzebub enters his wee body and takes over.

Last week when I picked him up from daycare, his teacher Ms. Rhonda wanted him to help the other kids pick up the toys before he left. I asked him to help and suddenly his body shook, the finger pointed, the foot stamped, the "NO MOMMY" flew forth from his lips and THE FIT appeared.

I asked Ms. Rhonda what I should do.

She told me I could leave the room. So I did. (Ms. Rhonda is in charge, G. I don't mess with Ms. Rhonda.)


When I returned, The Mayor was seated cross-legged on the floor with eight other toddlers, the group of them forming an orderly, geometric pattern and quietly eating honey grahams. He was perfectly happy. I would wager he had no memory of THE FIT.

Goody, goody and hip, hip hooray for Ms. Rhonda and her awesome skillz. But what about MEEEEEEEEEE?

I realize that my presence was probably part of the problem in this situation, but because I was out of the room I missed witnessing her strategy and stealing it for myself. When I asked her what I should do, I really wanted the advice. I honestly don't have the first clue.

Help me Obi Wan.

15 comments:

Pendullum said...

Why not ask Ms.Rhonda what she did?
Or how to keep it consistant with what she is doing in class...She probably has a few great tricks up her sleeve...

We have all been there... But it is just like a fog...
I remember one time my daughter had an out of body temper tantrum in fornt of a Greek Orthodox church...
I had a wagon full of groceries...including ice cream on a hot hot summer day...
I just had to sit on the curb and wait for my daughter to return to the night of the living...She screamed and screamed...All the while there were all these 'helpful' old ladies telling me that what she needed was some good dicipline... and that I was not fi to be a mom is I did not stop her screaming with a beating...
But I just let her cry it out...(Sometimes at moments like this you wish you carried a flask of vodka....)

When it was 'done.' I brought her home,put away the groceries, then got a nice glass of lemonade for both of us and sat down and talked with her about it... I talked about her anger,I talked about how she felt, I talked about how I felt...and I was so surprised... At the age of three she apologized to me...

It never happened again...

But I think of the meanspirited women more than my daughter's outburst...
I thought that I would never be like them.
I want to show solidarity in times like a temper tantrum...

So whenever I see it happen on the street and the mom is in for a long haul...
I go and get her a coffee ...

I realize that Idid not really help you there...
But you are not alone...
and looking forward to reading everyone else's more useful comments...

Grim Reality Girl said...

When my 2 threw THE FIT my reaction depended on the situation. If possible, it can pay to let them have the fit with the result being that THE FIT didn't change the situation they wanted to change. Hence they learn THE FIT isn't effective.

If it were time to leave daycare I'd give the kid a chance to leave nicely, then I'd tell them they could walk out nicely or be carried like a sack of potatoes. They learned they'd rather walk out nicely.

Consistency is your friend. THE FIT will still sometimes happen, but it will happen a LOT less if little Mr. doesn't get his way because he threw the fit.

Check out Parenting with Love and Logic -- there is some great wisdome in this book. Good luck! (sorry such a long post!)

Sayre said...

Z-boy had the FIT a few times. Your reaction depends on where you are at the time. If you are in a public place, you pick him up and walk out (leaving groceries or whatever it is right where they are). At restaurants, I remove him to outside and let him cry it out out there. At home, he goes to his room and stays there until he can be quiet.

The goal here is to get them quiet but let them master themselves. There really isn't anything else you can do. Hitting, in any way, shape or form is not helpful because they usually start crying LOUDER. I always talked to Z about it afterwards and he really didn't do it more than a few times because he understood that he wouldn't get what he wanted.

Nowadays, if there's an outburst it's because he's tired. We go right home and go to bed. Because that "threat" is there, he usually straightens up pretty fast.

Good luck. Been there, done that. It IS survivable.

liberalbanana said...

Can you leave the room at home? If you're out, leave him! Just go to the car, drive home, and calm down. Hopefully when you come back, he'll be calm as a mountain lake. Or kidnapped. Whatever. Either way, problem solved.

(I'm sorry, I don't have kids. Is that not the right answer?)

Nikki said...

I had this problem with Lauren and the only advise I got was 1) ignore her 2) spank her.

I believe in physical descipline - but I use it as a last resort.

When she was about 1 and a half, her temper tantrums started. It got so bad, I couldn't take her ANYWHERE, so I didn't take her ANYWHERE.

I explained that if she couldn't behave herself around people, then she wouldn't be around people. She did the test of wills with me and this lasted about 3-4 months.

Then when she was about 3 or so, she threw a screaming tantrum, complete with throwing herself on the floor and beating the floor with her fists and kicking her feet. I picked her up, took her to her room and explained again that if she couldn't behave herself around people, then she wouldn't be around people.

This only happened a couple of times. We talked each time, and when it finally sank in that she had a say, that her voice counted, it stopped.

Connor is 15 months now and is already doing it (it would seem they both have my temper and pig headedness). GAH! I'm not looking forward to it.

But Sayre was right, you have to be prepared to leave where ever you are, no matter what to show them that this behavior is not exceptable and will not be tolerated.

Good luck!

floosen said...

I checked out the Screamfree Parenting book the great guru recommended. It's a good one.

My husband's colleague just made a great observation. In every situation, there is the mature response, and the one that makes you feel better. Going with the mature response is always the right way to go.

But it sucks. And it does feel better to get pissy. If I had a clue, we'd be in better shape around here. WHat I have noticed is that D saves these kinds of misbehaviours for his dad and me. The folks at his school think he is a sainted child. Brother.

Three is worse. I am just warning you because you are my friend.

carmachu said...

Going with much of the otehr advice:

First, dumbass(*grin*) ask rhonda. Its not like its a state secret.....


Much like Nikki, its either ignore or spank.

Usually when sarah has had a fit, the usual stern " when you ready to act like a big girl and stop this, come get me" and leave the room. They want the drama and attention.

What every you decide, the real key is consistancy, consistancy, consistancy. You give in even ONCE, and you will be back to square one.

We never had terrible twos. But once sarah hit three, it was like a swticjh

Diana said...

My son has started these recently, and they haven't been too bad. He gets a stern warning (threatening, whatever)and stops.
But.
There have been days where he all out throws himself on the floor, face down and cries and screams and hits...and i step over him and go sit on the couch to wait for him to finish. If they don't get a reaction out of you, they stop. (mine anyway.) He will get himself off the floor and come to me and be human again. As for public-thankfully he hasn't had a fit there yet, but it will happen. I don't know what to do with public fits. I'll take the ladies' comments above under consideration...
I would be very interested in what Ms. Rhonda says to you...

Jennifer said...

I found the IGNORING worked... I'd just leave him alone in the room, or this one time - lying on the sidewalk screaming.

It always ended in an incredulous, "Why did you leave me?!" and a discussion on acceptable behavior.

It worked for him, but more importantly, it made me not kill him. Which I think they frown upon nowadays, or something.

Blonde Vigilante said...

I babysat satan and his younger brother satin for years and I always found that ignoring them worked the best. You can't give them what they want, because then they know their strategy worked. Leave the room, walk away and ignore.

Out in public is a totally different thing. Good luck.

Oh, The Joys said...

Okay. I asked Ms. Rhonda. Like most of you, she said "Ignore him." If he's acting out in public, carry him (like the sack of potatoes mentioned above), put him in the car and ignore him there. Though the Banana's idea is REALLY appealing...

Lisa said...

I'd say "get out the cattle prod." Or the taser. heehee.

Not really. But that's what I think in my head when my child acts out. Thanks for stopping by tonight. Am loving your blog!

kim said...

Im clueless. Of the 5 children I have raised to various stages ...BT is the only one to behave this way. I'm reading your comments hoping for a revelation :)

blessedmomx3 said...

I'm coming back to read all this advice when my brain isn't already asleep. The terrible twos start at 16 months at my house apparently, so the baby and his twin 2 1/2 yr old seesters all have their tantrums--they bring it out in one another. I'm mostly for ignoring it.

If people are around, I remove the child from their audience and try to take them aside to calm them down.

If they're just trying to be hateful and nothing is working, I spank and yell at the top of my lungs. Did I just confess that I have a tantrum when my children don't do what I want them to?

Mel said...

I usually ignored them. And I generally avoided taking them out in public at all during the difficult phases; in other words, not ALL of his year will be rotten, just for a week or two here and there.
And there was only once, one time, that I actually did spank my eldest for throwing a tantrum; it was when she flung herself to the ground, I went to pick her up, and she bit me. For that, she got two thwaps through the diaper and put in time-out.
And you know? I think it shocked her so much that I would lay my hands on her like that, she never did throw another fit. I don't say that I would spank her today if she was two again and bit me, from the perspective that time gives, but it was effective then and I was only 21 and kind of dumb, so you know.
To continue the novel - with the Mack, I was a more seasoned mom, and five years older, so I kind of was a bad person who would laugh at her when she'd flip out. What?! It was funny! Which, of course, pissed her off so that she'd stop her fittin' and peer up at me to figure out what was so funny. I got the Mack by simply not yielding the power in the situation to her. In other words, I didn't come down on her like a ton of bricks, but I totally never allowed her to think that she was in control of the situation. I feel that if you allow a toddler to feel like they are controlling things, they get frightened of the lack of structure and act out.
/ramble