Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde

When Iman turned from a sweet little baby into a toddler, we had to learn to cope with her developing personality and raging fury fits. Now that she has entered into the world of expressive anger, we have to decide how we’re going to handle her and teach her that screaming and crying are NOT ways to get everything you desire.

At this point most experienced parents advise that we should “let her cry it out”. I think all those parents have forgotten what loud shrilling scream crying can do to our ears. I’m quite clueless at this point. Letting her kick and scream isn’t something we want to do, but on the other hand we can’t give into everything she wants.

Just to get everyone on board, let me describe a typical temper tantrum… First Iman finds something she wants (that she shouldn’t have) and she starts playing with it. For this example let’s use a remote control. So she’s pressing the buttons, making the TV go haywire (which is even MORE amusing for her). When I try to take it from her (obviously using the “distraction” method) she starts this lower lip pout thing and her eyes become big and sad, this is the warning of the flood of tears to come. Then her eyes well up with tears and she starts crying. That eventually turns into screaming and then it just goes on and on and on and on and on… At this point there are 3 ways we can handle it. First, we can give her the remote back (big “no no”, it will teach her that she can always get what she wants if she cries). Second, we can hold her and play with her and pacify her (another “no no” because this will teach her that if she behaves badly, we’ll be quick to jump to her side, not letting her realize that she’s doing something wrong). Which brings us to the last way…. # 3, we can let her cry it out and teach her the hard way that she can’t have everything she wants. Which brings me to the initial point, listening to a child crying is a HARD HARD job. One second she’s a sweet little thing, playing with her toys, and the next she’s got tears streaming down her face, she’s yelling bloody murder and her nose is running into her mouth (not such a pretty picture).

So where do we go from here? I don’t want to spend the next few months in parent hell. Imagine if she throws a tantrum at someone’s house, or even in a public place. What then? I can sit in my own home and hear her bawling her heart out, but when we’re out and she throws a fit, we’re going to try to make her quiet at any cost. Also a “no no” because that teaches her that outside she can use this method to get her ways.

Exhausted yet? There is perhaps no solution to this phase, and we can only look forward to her getting older and out growing this. The sooner the better.


At 5:32 PM, Blogger Smoky said...

Oh Lordy be. Is it too late for a refund?

At 10:02 PM, Blogger Hina said...

ha ha ha

The upside is that she still looks adorable sleeping :)

At 6:12 PM, Anonymous D said...

I will ask the powers that be (aka Linda) what her esteemed opinion on this subject is... but from what I know, Method #3 is the one believed to inculcate good social skills over the long term... which kind of makes sense, 'cause it's the hardest method, and the rule 'If It's Difficult To Achieve, It Must Be Worth Doing' usually holds true in such matters.

Having said that, something along the lines of Method #2 might also be good, as long as you can somehow stop the child from making a connection between a tantrum and getting loads of attention from Mommy and Daddy.

Like I said, I shall consult the Oracle on your behalf.

At 11:15 AM, Blogger bakpakchik said...

D, I want to read your book NOW :)

At 5:04 PM, Anonymous D said...

What book is that, Bakpakchik?

Anyway, allow me to report back from the Oracle.

At the beginning, it was difficult to tap into the astral plane. The initial responses were cries of, "Tell her to hide the bloody remote control!" and "Oh my god, that takes me back..." and "Hahahahahahahahahahahah" and "Yes, that's a tough one" and "Does she realise she's got about 18 years of the same thing ahead of her?" but eventually I found a peaceful place from which some interesting thoughts emanated.

The Oracle said, "Well, first of all tell her that the mere fact she is thinking about these things and considering the consequences of her actions shows that she is a good parent. Unfortunately, the difficult truth is that there isn't a single, all-effective solution to these problems. Yes, you must try not to allow your baby to make the connection between a tantrum and lots of attention, but you must also try to prevent tantrums from arising in the first place... by hiding the remote control, for instance. One of the worst, most embarrassing things that can happen is when your child throws a tantrum in a public place, like a supermarket. I confess that whenever this happened to me, I simply cut short my shopping trip. I didn't want to give in to my child's demands but I also didn't want to be the focus of attention of every single person in the shop. This is a very, very difficult nut to crack, and it's just another reason why parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world... and one of the few jobs for which people get almost no preparation! But tell her it sounds as though she is absolutely doing the right thing and not to worry too much. And the one rule on which everyone appears to agree is: don't give in to tantrums!"

That was the word of the Oracle.

So, not earth shattering news, but hopefully you can take some reassurance from it.

You could also sell the TV.

Thank you.

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Hina said...

Our thanks to the Oracle

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Raven said...

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