Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Temper Tantrums

Recently I was watching our local morning show on TV and a discipline expert from a local nanny school was commenting on a video clip portraying a mother picking up a tantrum riddled toddler and dragging the kid to try and get him up on his feet, all in the middle of a store. Anyone who has endured the tantrum years can relate to this all too easily. The expert said this mom did everything wrong, that she should have just walked away and left the child behind. I have to strongly disagree not in a store. No kid wants to be abandoned, so doing this at a time when the child most needs you, is plain stupidity and could lead to the child distrusting you.
I truly would not want a nanny in my house trained by this woman, if that is what she instigates. I would be furious if the person caring for my child was taught to walk away while my kid was distressed on the floor of a store. A little bit of paranoia here, but who knows who could be lurking around the corner to pick the child up.
So my solution, which has worked on my 3 children and on all the 30 other children I have nannied over the years is; Firstly, you really have to know your child. All kids will throw tantrums if they are tired and expected to do things they are incapable of doing or dealing with. So, depending on the kid or the situation there are many options, you just have to learn which one to apply to what situation and know that what worked last time may not work this time. Be flexible and open to making the best of the situation. Always remember you are the adult here and even though you would like to roll around on the floor kicking and screaming along with your child in frustration, your child is looking to you to make them feel safe and set boundaries. Remember you have options. Your child may feel they do not. You have to guide them and coax them. All too often I have been in a store where the mother is yelling at their kid to "quit it". That wouldn't work. I believe it is O.K. to pick up your child, regardless of whether it looks like man handling to others. Hold your child tightly and gently across their arms and legs so they are restrained in a loving way and can do the least damage to themselves and you and then remove them from the situation, all the time talking to them gently and lovingly. Not yelling "cut it out", of course that is what you want to do, but keep reassuring them that you are leaving the situation and life is O.K. Keep telling yourself that too, it helps. Remember most toddlers are not the evil devil child (Although a tantrum can make you question this!). They are still incredibly immature humans who need your guidance on how to proceed. Once away from the situation you can then place them in the car or go to a park or even home, once they have calmed down (it may seem like ever, but they usually do calm down relatively quickly) discuss with them how they feel and why they think this happened and you voice how you feel too. I am not suggesting a major debate but a conversation on the toddler level, they do have various ways of communicating. Of course you make the decisions but even though your child is very little they have a voice and should be heard and if they feel you respect them and their voice they may not act out half as much.
Always tell a child where you are taking them and the expectation you have of them and what they can expect to happen when you get there, who you might be meeting for coffee etc., this will reassure them and everything will not be as foreign. Just think if somebody put you on a plane and didn't tell you anything about where you were going, where you would be staying, what you would be eating, who you would be meeting, no luggage and nothing familiar etc. you'd soon throw a tizzy fit. so remember your child deserves the same consideration.