Pedagogy experiment on your own child: What to do in case of tantrums?

Anger management: shouting until someone gives in

…and usually that’s me. You can read parenting guides on toddler tantrums galore, but your own child falls into the category of “first things don’t happen, and second things don’t happen”.

So what to do when the child is so old that they not only has a will of his own, but can also express it with the support of the strong lungs given by nature? Recent example: We ask child No. 1 to sit at the table in order to join us for dinner. Child No. 2 is already sitting contentedly in his high chair, sucking on softly cooked broccoli with his two little teeth, and the freshly cooked meal is steaming on the table. Of course, there is also a bowl of rice without anything on the table.

From 0 to 100 in no time

Child No. 1 climbs onto his own chair and tries to eat the not-so-sticky rice himself with a spoon. Our request to please put on a bib with a catch-all fold is denied. We leave it at that, I have not been fighting such little battles for a long time. From our point of view, it is more valuable to let the daughter eat when she does eat voluntarily (which is not always the case) than to have a spotlessly clean home. Because, of course, it doesn’t take five minutes for it to look like a bomb hit that tiny bowl of rice within a half-meter radius of her high chair, scattering the grains in all directions. (When you clean it up, you do notice that the rice is sticky).

Shortly thereafter, the next declaration of will by implied action: The child is done eating. In the truest sense of the word, the chaos described above would have done credit to any Messi household. Dismounting from the high chair, things really get going now:
Our attempts to motivate her to keep eating (“Carolina, eat some more rice… or something else yummy”) go from a simple “no” answer to screaming and crying in no time. Why? Nobody knows. We did not do anything to her, we only refused the demand for cookies.

Bad – worse – worst

Once screaming in a rage, the child was unstoppable: “Daddy, come here!” she demanded in a command tone. Meant, of course, immediately. Of course, the daddy did not comply with the latter immediately and jumped up from the chair. At least he complied to the extent that he then stood in front of her, only to have to listen to the opposite siren in a not moderate volume: “NOOOOOOOOO!”. On the “Well, then I go again”-shrug of dad came postwendend an even louder “YEEEEEES”. And so it goes for about half an hour. There is a lot of crying, screaming, jumping with rage and shaking hands. Tears also roll, and the little rage-boy probably doesn’t even know himself why.

One of the grandpas once ironically titled this behavior as “what you can achieve with concrete will”.

So what helps with toddler tantrums?

We were driven to the point of going to a family counseling center by the ongoing tantrums, which are not at all uncommon between the ages of 2 and 3 in almost all well-sorted households. There were actually lectures on the topic of “tantrums in the toddler” and we could breathe a little easier, because it was well attended. So we are not the only ones with the problem. In order to avert the nervous ordeal, the psychologist recommended that we mirror to the child what it is feeling at the moment. She told us that children can only do this from the age of 4. In other words, the child cries because it should stop watching TV. So we say, “You’re angry because you’re not allowed to watch TV anymore. And what can I say – simple, but helps!

Not as a panacea, of course, but Mini 1 is more quickly back on the ground. She calms down more easily. Having anger and being allowed to express it is also an important part of development.

And most importantly, with that little bit more understanding from the lecture and knowing that it’s not just us, we can adjust better. And we even partly feel sorry for the poor sap who doesn’t yet know what to do with his feelings. That makes it all the easier to comfort and understand.

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