♥ Surviving Toddler Temper Tantrums

Temper tantrums!! 

Copyright Andy Dean Photography

Have you ever been standing in line at the grocery store waiting to check out at the register, staring at all the last minute temptation candies and gum and treats? Ever witnessed a little child throwing a fit because they want a last-minute candy bar or treat or a bubble gum at the checkout? They say "Mommy Mommy Mommy!! I really want this candy Mommy! Can I have some candy please Mommy please! Mommy can I have some candy? MOMMY?!!!" They're begging, they're pleading... their volume increases, the intensity escalates. Mommy starts to squirm, she says "No" the child pleads some more. Mommy still says "no" again. The kiddo persistently keeps saying "Pleeeeeease Mommy pleeeeease." Child starts to cry, they start to scream, they start to kick, they start to throw a fit right there in the grocery store. Mommy becomes flustered and embarrassed.  So poor exasperated Mommy eventually says "Okay fine!! Just stop this fussing!  Sit still... stop screaming" Poor Mommy gives in and hands the child the candy. 

The child calms down.
The child smiles.
The child has won.

The child won that "battle" with the parent. The grown up lost! The adult failed. The one who is SUPPOSED to be the bigger person. The adult - the one in charge! 

That child has learned "Ooooh, okay cool, so all I have to do when I really want something is to start screaming and yelling and stomping and kicking and throwing a fit. If I scream loud enough Mommy will give in. if I cry long enough Mommy will give in. if I whine and throw a fit strong enough Mommy will let me have what I want."

 Babies learn very quickly how to manipulate to get their way. It is a survival tactic, it's not mischievous or bad. They're testing. They're in training. They're trying new things. They're learning! While we might consider this inappropriate behavior, it is simply a survival technique to them and we as adults cannot blame the little one for this behavior. Especially if WE are the ones who are not strong enough to put our foot down and tell the child how it's going to be.  Whether they are upset about it or not. Crying, kicking & screaming will not get you what you want. 

I would much rather see Mommy pick up that child, leave their basket full of groceries in the store and walk out carrying that kicking screaming baby all the way out to the car. Who cares if people stare. Who cares what everyone thinks! I tell you what! If people are watching and staring as you carry the "tantrum terror" out to the car... they will probably applaud you for your good parenting!! They'll probably be relieved there's no more screaming! 

What we need to try to teach the child is positive reinforcement. Help them. We are training them how to treat us!! (...and others humans.)
"If you are a really good little boy or girl if you mind me during this shopping spree, if you sit quietly,  mind your manners if you behave well" etc  that's what earns a reward that's what gets you a treat or whatever is is they want. 
A trip to the park, a froyo etc, maybe a small toy. 

For me sometimes when I'm taking a kiddo through the store doing some grocery shopping for the family, if I want little one to behave - I just promise them a quick walk through the toy isle. Often that is enough! They don't need to be promised a candy bar or a bag of M&M candies. Just a stroll down the toy isle to look at all the toys and Barbies and Legos is enough for them! That is a reward at the end of a shopping trip if they have been on their best behavior. 

To give in to a tantrum is simply enabling your child to get what they want by behaving badly and usually often times causing embarrassment at the checkout register. (or playground, or restaurant or in church, or a birthday party...)

If there's one thing I've learned about tantrums during my 39 years of experience as a child care giver and a nanny... its that a toddler wont throw a tantrum if there's no audience. I'm totally serious! Try this test next time your toddler throws a tantrum! Turn your back. Don't look. Don't watch. Don't give it any energy. Don't yell "Stoppit! Shut up!" Ignore it completely with deadpan look on your face. Don't even let them SEE your face! Almost like you cant even hear them and you  don't even notice their screams and throwing themself onto the floor. Heck leave the room! (Well maybe just step right around the corner where the child cannot see you.) I can almost guarantee you the toddler will stop the crazy crying and screaming. 

Then, when you walk back into the room, if it starts back up again - you just turn your back walk out again. Silence. Its like and on/off switch! Eventually the toddler will tire out, give up, get distracted or forget what they were even crying about in the first place. The whining will dwindle. The tantrum is over. After a few of these boring, failed attempts at a tantrum... fits that dont get them what they want and they dont even get a response out of you... the kiddo will eventually learn that this is an ineffective process and it doesn't get them any results.  It's too much energy and effort, it tires them out it, drains them and no one is even paying any attention anyway so why bother? They'll lose interest in throwing tantrums altogether. 

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