You’re walking through the supermarket, careless and free, doing your weekly grocery shopping. As you turn into the bread/frozen treats isle you hear a shrill scream. You see a little boy jumping up and down, pounding his fists in the air, yelling at his mother saying, “I WANT ICE CREAM!!!!” The mother is trying her best to calm the little boy down, but her efforts only trigger him off more. He then drops to the floor, and starts kicking and screaming. The mom, now getting frustrated reaches down and attempts to grab him up. She is unsuccessful. She then bends down and whispers to the little boy, and he responds with a loud “NO!” She tries to pick him up again, and he moves her hand while at the same time dislodging her wig, which falls on the floor!!!!
THAT’S NOT MY KID!!!!
Have you ever experienced a situation like that? During my 10 years of mothering, I know that I have seen this type of behavior before. My heart always went out to the mother experiencing the effects of a child throwing a tantrum, but I was so grateful that it wasn’t me….
but now, it is ME!
This week has been rather tough for me, as my three-year-old has turned over a new leaf. I know the imagery of turning over a new leaf typically signifies making a positive change in your life, but in regards to my son, that is the total opposite. My little man, use to be obedient, loving and “normal”. When I say “normal”, I mean, that he would do what typical children his age would do. He would sometimes exhibit defiant behaviors, but nothing too crazy. Now, I don’t know where my little guy went, because…
THIS IS NOT MY KID!!!
It all began last Saturday evening, when my good friend was watching my children for me, so that I could attend a meeting. My children know her and her family, and they are usually well behaved. As I sat in my meeting, I decided to text her to check on the kids. She responded by saying that my little guy was not listening to her. He was being defiant, and kept telling her “no”. He even went as far as throwing a toy at her. My eye balls popped out of its socket while I sat in that meeting.
My heart sank and I became sad. I asked myself “what was going on with him?”
When I picked up my children, I had a long talk with him, and explained to him that what he did was not nice. I then told him that it made mommy very sad. He said that he was sorry. “I’m sorry mommy” were his exact words.
As the new week began, I started to notice an increase in aggressive behaviors. He was easily ticked off so to speak. His older sister would be the trigger then *BOOM*.
As I sat down one day, I began to reminisce.
Growing up, I experienced my mother and the struggles that she endured when it came to dealing with my little brother, who was filled with aggression. He was completely defiant. I remember seeing my little brother have tantrums, and melt-downs in the supermarket. I remember my little brother hitting his classmates when he was in school, which started from a very young age. I also remember hearing the stories from my mother, who would tell us how my little brother would run out of the school, and not listen to his teachers. Additionally, he would also destroy other things on the school’s property. Oh my little brother…. My heart was always softened towards him, because I knew that his behavior was directly connected to his inability to effectively express himself.
Now, I am seeing my little son acting out in a very similar way— and it’s scaring me.
This past Wednesday, I took a trip to Michael’s, the art supply store to pick up some painting canvas’. It was supposed to be a quick trip…in and out. As I shopped for what I needed, my little guy kept on picking up small toys that he wanted. I repeatedly told him that he could hold it, but I was not going to buy it. When we got to the checkout line, he picked up a pack of sour gummy worms, and asked me to buy them. I said, “NO!, Put them back”. He disobeyed me, and held on to them as I was purchasing my other items at checkout.
After I paid for all of my items… (yes, I ended up getting way more than I intended. Lol), I took the gummy worms from him, and gave it to the checkout attendant, and told her that I didn’t want it.
That set my little guy off! He began to cry and scream. He proceeded to fall on the floor, and created a big scene. If my complexion was lighter, I would have looked like a red beet! I told him to get up, but he didn’t listen. He continued to cry and yell.
I told my other 3 children to take the cart and the stroller towards the exit, so that I could move away from the register. I picked up my little man, who is NOT light, and I positioned him in an upright manner—and beckoned him to place his feet on the floor. He did not. My biceps were BURNINGGGGGGG!!
I wanted to yell, “THAT’S NOT MY KID!!!”, and walk out the store.
Nevertheless…I held my ground and toughed it out. I ignored his cries, and I waited for him to stop. Eventually he stood up, and I said, “Let’s go”. I walked ahead of him and left him there crying. He soon got the memo and followed suit. The five of us walked out of the store.
As we got to the car, he came up to me and said, “I’m sorry mommy”.
I looked at him with compassion and I told him, “when you behave like that, mommy is very sad. Mommy wants you to be obedient—you have to listen to mommy.”
As I was putting him in the car, this elderly woman approached me.
“You did a wonderful job back there in the store” she said.
I replied, “This is a hard job…”
In her response she then said, “I know, but you’re doing a great job. Children have their moments, but you held your ground, you didn’t give in, and that’s the lesson he will learn. He now knows that he will not have his way, even when he cries and scream. It will take time, but he will learn”
TALK ABOUT RIGHT ON TIME WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT!!!
I was feeling so defeated. I could not believe that my 3-year-old child was behaving that way. My other children were not like this, but I was reminded that every child IS different. That lady served as a glimmer of hope for me, but I still left that store thinking…. I have to do something.
I started to pray for my baby. I always pray for my kids, but I started a special prayer for my little guy. I cannot do this alone. It is my belief that God can change situations, and He can impress the hearts of men, and so I gave this one to Him.
I also started to research preschooler tantrums to understand a little bit more about what is going on. I came across an article from www.babycenter.com, which actually provided me with some insight into what those tantrums really are and why they happen.
The first thing that made me feel a little more at ease was reading this line:
“Though you may worry that the tantrums are a sign of a difficult personality, take heart – at this age, tantrums are normal. It’s unlikely that your child is throwing a fit to be manipulative. More likely, [he or] she is having a meltdown in response to frustration at [his or] her current situation or because of something else that has been bothering [him or] her.”
The article continued to explain that tantrums are the results of overwhelming emotions, and I personally know that to be true. I’ve seen my little guy get so upset, that he becomes defiant and starts having a fit.
Do any of our beloved readers have experience with tantrumming preschoolers? If yes, what do you do? How do you cope? (We would love to hear from you in our comment box at the end of the article).
Baby Center offers practical methods that can help both you and your preschooler make it through the tantrum storms safe and sound. A lot of the methods recommended are actually things that I already do, and maybe you do them too as well. At least we can be reassured that the ways in which, we are handling these situations are okay— and at the same time be encouraged that our actions can produce positive/productive results.
I am going to share some of the things that I do to help me through those moments:
- Pray- I KNOW that if I approach this without God being at the foundation, I am going to spank my little man on his tooshie. I do not want this to be my primary method of discipline, so I need all the help that I can get to stay cool and calm.
- Stay cool- It is important for us moms to keep our cool. Getting “fired up” will only add to the tantrum. During a tantrum, our children are unable to reason, or process what we are saying. Keeping cool will actually help them to calm down. I would usually say to my youngest son, “Look at me. Look at my eyes…breathe…deep breath in and deep breath out.” At that point, I have his attention. After that, I can talk and reason with him knowing that he hears and understands what I am saying.
- You ARE the adult- Our kids DO NOT run the show…we do— and we have to let them know that. We cannot give in to their demands, or negotiate with them. We have to hold our ground and let them know that we are in charge. It’s so easy to give them what they want, especially in public just to quiet them down, but in all actuality we are creating a little monster when we do that. In essence, we are teaching our kids that in order to have their way, all they need to do is kick, scream, and cry.
- Talk about it- Once you get your child to calm down, they need to know what they did, and why it was wrong. Talk about it. I know that once my boy is calm and attentive, I can explain to him what he did, why it was wrong, and what I expect him to do. He affirms my message and makes an effort to do better the next time. It is best to talk in the simplest language possible, in order to ensure that your child understands what you are saying. I also tell my son to use his words, instead of screaming and crying. After our talk, I hug my baby and I tell him that I love him.
- Determine what triggers the melt downs- I know for a fact that when my boy is tired, he is easily irritated. Any and everything sets him off. Knowing what causes the onset of tantrums can better help you to prevent them, by ensuring that their needs are met. Other kids may have tantrums because they are hungry, so it is best to have snacks readily available. I also know that if my son is tired and I tell him “No”, he starts a tantrum. Sometimes a “No” is necessary, but according to Baby Center, you have to assess if your “No” really has to be a “No”. The whole notion is to choose your battles wisely.
As much as we would like to say, “That is NOT my kid” during a tantrum, the reality is that…it IS our child. We have to do our very best to raise them up to be noble, and honorable people— who will hopefully be an asset to society.
Let us continue to remain hopeful, positive, and patient as we raise our children to be their very BEST!
~Love is the answer
AAP. 2015. Top tips for surviving temper tantrums. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/communication-discipline/Pages/Temper-Tantrums.aspx