Death to Tantrums!
Enter the scene of one of the most magical moment in your life…the delivery room. Your beautiful sugar enters into this world precious and fragile as can be. Emotions around the room of joy, pride, excitement, zeal and contentment are shared through the airwaves. Out of your sugars mouth is their first sound, a communication tool that informs the doctor, “yes, I’m healthy and my lungs work,” with a big, bold cry. In this moment, this sound is beautiful. It brings a warm smile to our face and instantly as parents, we innately want to soothe that sound with our love and comfort. Here begins our journey. You cry, I meet your need.
As the clock turns, time goes by and our sugar continues to use this communication tool to notify us of their needs. Hunger, thirst, fear, comfort, entertainment, gassy, wet and we come willing, anxious, and excited to answer to these needs. We become so accustomed to answering this communicative call that we can discern between types of cries. Studies even show that momssleep patterns change in order to be readily available to answer that call. In a room full of infants, we can even distinguish our sugars cry from others. That is how powerful the cry is. Amazing, right?
The earth continues going around the sun and our sugar starts to use their first words. The excitement of hearing vocabulary growth elicits feelings of euphoria and laughter. Your little sugar is now starting to use the symbol system of language and boy does it get fun from here. However, with all the fun, our sugar does not quite have enough language to get through the day, hence the cry. By now, the cry gravitates to agitation, protest, fear, sleepy or hurt. Still valid for mom and dad to meet the need. They still really need you.
Here we go again with this beautiful thing we are graced with…time…and our little sugar now has a plentiful vocabulary to express thoughts, ideas, wants, needs, and oh boy…opinions. You now hear your name in the morning with a greeting and conversations commence across the breakfast table about Cheerios, Fruit Loops and world peace. Your sugar can exchange some conversational turns with you and there you have it…a little person with words. How wonderful!
“Wonderful” sometimes takes a left turn because while our sugars vocabulary amazes us, they still utilize a familiar tool to get wants met…yep…through tantrumming. It’s like that wonderful little person knows how to turn on and turn off this magical tool that is not quite crying, but it kinda is, but it is more of a manipulation tool because they know that if they defer to crying- guess what…here come mom and dad to rescue me. Funny how quickly the tables turn and our sugars learn that crying, even when they have words is still a magical tool that they can use to leverage a situation that words could not on their behalf.
Even more, they know how to use this tool, when to use it, and with whom results are most successful.
Be encouraged parents, your sugar is still wonderful and their accomplishments are inspiring. However, in order to be a parenting pro, it is important to have a game plan when our little master manipulators, ahem, I mean sugars come to the negotiating table.
As a parent, and in my eyes, a world changer, it is my responsibility to help you understand exactly what tantrumming is…MANIPULATION! Simply put, it is the ability to use negative behavior to change a unfavorable situation for their personal benefit. There are no ands, ifs, buts, considerations, whatifs, or challenges that will change my mind. In clinic (and from personal mommy experience), I’ve experienced every type of tantrum from every type of child that is imaginable.
Now, at this point, I’ve given you the answer. You are free to take that information with a grain of salt, doubt me and continue down your path. You are free to stop reading at this point because I am giving world changers real tools to overcome this situation. And yes, it is a serious situation. Even worse…it doesn’t simply go away in time. The child becomes an adult and you leave their peers to deal with their adult tantrums. If you don’t believe me, ever seen an adult fly off the handle for something that seems trivial…ahem…tantrum.
Here are some basic questions to help you decide, does my sugar need me or does this align with a tantrum? (This applies to sugars who have language)
1. Is your sugar crying because they are hurt? If yes, help them out. Give them comfort. If it’s a no…tantrum.
2. Is your sugar crying because they are sick? If yes, please meet their needs. If not, tantrum.
3. Is your sugar crying because they are in pain? If yes, again, please meet their needs. If not…it’s a tantrum.
4. Is your sugar crying because they have a hard time expressing themselves or advocatingfor their needs? If yes, try coaching them through it. If not…tantrum.
5. Is your sugar falling apart because you told them no? If yes, hands down tantrum.
6. Is your sugar falling apart because you redirected their behavior? If yes, say it with me…tantrum.
7. Is your sugar crying but there are no tears? If yes, say it with me…tantrum. You are free to shake your head on this one.
Getting the gist of how this works. If it is not pain, sick or hurt…it is probably a tantrum. If they have enough words to express themselves but use crying instead…it is a tantrum.
Now, there is no way that I am going to bring to light something like this without some hands on tools to deal. If you find you little sugar, or for that matter, big sugar having a tantrum because you did not allow things to go their way-here’s what you do…ready for it…WALK AWAY. Go the other way. Do not engage. Do not say a word. Don’t even look their way. I’m serious as a car salesman at the end of the month trying to get one sale.
Why walk away? It’s simple. Why engage with anyone whose upset or crying? How well did someone get through to you when you were mad, upset, or adamant about getting your way? Probably not too far. We walk away to keep our cool, so when our sugar calms down and comes back to earth, we are ready to engage with peace and love. We don’t have to be driven by their emotions. Chances are, when they are tantrumming, your leveraging quickly becomes anger. Why…because you don’t want to hear it. Or, you give in so you won’t have to hear it. Or you deflect which is a like a bandaid with no adhesive making it worse.
World changers, we have to be intentional about the messages we are sending our sugars. If we continually allow them to believe that tantrumming is a means to communicate, they will use it. In some cases, it can hinder their language growth and development. Think about it. If you allow your 2 year old to use crying over words each time they communicate with you-are they really gaining 5-7 new words each week?
Even if they are, think of it from a social aspect. If your sugar is getting their way every time they cry, how are they going to get along with peers? How are they going to deal with “no” from others. You are not hurting them when you don’t give in. What is being hurt is their ability to deal with real life. And world changers, we cannot have that.
Now, as you are going through this process, decide early what you are going to do while they are tantrumming. Team up with your spouse and make some decisions. You will need a game plan that you are both willing to follow. Because I’ve been down this road, it would be completely unfair for me to leave out that initially the tantrums might seem worse and last longer. Here’s why. Your sugar is used to you giving in, deflecting, negotiating, answering, leveraging, and on and on. It becomes worse when they feel like they are not making progress with you. Remember, a tantrum is a form of manipulation in order to move things in their favor. So yes, in most cases…it gets worse…usually parents report two weeks before things turn around.
You will notice that once it gets better, the tantrums will become shorter and shorter because it is no longer effective. Think of it like this…let’s say I went to China and spoke fluent English when the native language was Mandarin…how far would I get? How long would I try to use English? Not very long. I would stop using my fluent English, pick up a pocket translator and figure out how to communicate with those around me. Our sugars are exactly the same. If you stop speaking to tantrum, they will stop using tantrum as a form of language.
World changer, I call you this simply because in order to make any type of progress we have to go against the grain. To be a world changer, you cannot fall in alignment with the norm. I’m not saying this is an easy road, but I am saying that you can do it. We all deal with it as parents. That’s one of the perks of being in the parent club, but we don’t have to accept this behavior. We can do better. We can do it for our sanity, as well as for the appropriate health and development of our sugars futures. We can do it because we are tired of being embarrassed at Target! We can do it because we are tired of peace being disturbed at home! We can do it because we are tired of the teacher calling about emotional meltdowns at school! We can do this because they have amazing language that we would prefer for them to share with us! We can do this because we don’t want to raise that adult who cannot deal with foam on their latte when they asked for no foam! We can do this because it is our duty as parents to help connect with them, guide their growth, and foster how they learn to navigate in this world appropriately.
World changers, you have a significant task at hand. I would love to hear from you. Send me your tantrumming overcomer story and I would love to share it with others on our social media pages. Others need to know that they are not in this alone. In fact, I am willing to join in the party. I will even share how I dealt with the last tantrum in the Williams household. Yes, we still get them here.
Until the next time world changers!
Take care, C.