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Hartselle Enquirer

A firm hand can stop a tantrum

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
Dear Mom's Corner,
What do you do when you're in public to discipline your children? When mine act up I get so embarrassed I just want to give in so that we don't make a scene.
Dear PR,
First of all, I remind myself that almost all children have temper tantrums at some time or another, so there is no reason to feel embarrassed when my child does. (It does help a little.) I also remind myself that "this too shall pass"–thank goodness.
Next, I don't give in to blackmail and that is what a tantrum boils down to. I look at it like this–if my child knows that I don't want to be embarrassed and will give in to their demands if they scream loud enough, then I am being blackmailed by my own child. I refuse to live my life under my child's thumb.
The obvious question is, "Just what do you do, then?" Well, that depends on which child it is. For example, when one of our daughters was about three, we went out to eat dinner with my in-laws.
My daughter started throwing a fit because she wanted to get dessert but hadn't finished her dinner yet. We said "no" and the fit ensued. She started to get loud so I turned to her and said, "You're not crying loud enough. The people in the corner can't hear you. Please cry louder. Now if you're going to do something, do it properly. Come on now, cry louder."
My daughter (and my hubby and in-laws) looked at me as if I had lost my mind, but my daughter hushed up. She found she couldn't embarrass me to get her way.
I will warn you that won't work with every child. It doesn't even work with all of my children. You have to know your child's temperament. When we were in foster care, we had a little girl this technique would never have worked on. She wanted to be a part of everything, so to discipline her we used separation. When she began to throw a fit in a store, we picked her up (usually kicking and screaming) and took her out to the van where she got to sit in her car seat until she calmed down.
She hated it. She didn't like leaving a store because she might miss something. She didn't like being forced to sit in the van while her daddy or I listened to talk radio.
It got to where all we had to say was "Do you want to go to the van?" and that would stop the tantrum. However, I will warn you, it took almost a year to reach that point.
Another approach is the "wait till we get home." Although, I usually feel the behavior needs to be dealt with immediately, we do use this method for older children who can remember what they've done and why they are being disciplined. For example, I will say, "If you keep whining like this, when we get home you won't have any computer privileges the rest of the day." Of course, when we get home, if the child asks to use the computer, I remind him or her why they don't have that privilege.
Now having said all of this, I want to add one more thought. Try to pay careful attention to when your child's tantrums happen. Is something triggering them that you can avoid to begin with? I'm not suggesting we walk on eggshells around our children to prevent them from throwing a fit, but on that same hand we need to use a little bit of common sense. Don't try to eat at a nice quiet restaurant when your children are hot tired and have been cooped up in a van for four hours straight without air conditioning. (Our wonderful vacation.) Obviously, we needed a place to let the kids move around a bit. We could have gone to a nice, quiet, sit-down restaurant, but I doubt we would have enjoyed it. Common sense, see?
If your child's nap time is f 1-2 p.m. each day, then don't schedule things for that time frame. You're just setting yourself up for your child to have a meltdown because they're tired.
I hope these ideas have helped you. Don't be embarrassed when your child misbehaves. They're just being normal.
Hold you head up high, take charge of the situation and remember. . .this too shall pass–thank goodness!
If you have a question, comment or suggestion for Mom's Corner, please mail it to Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640 or moms-corner@juno.com

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