Sunday, February 3, 2013

Temper, temper

Let's Talk About Temper Tantrums.

throw tantrums? NOT ME!? See my t-shirt?

During one of our older child adoption trainings we were shown a series of Youtube videos of children tantruming, in an attempt to get us to understand the importance of knowing how to deal with that type of behavior (and I think to scare us a little bit about what we were about to undertake). I laughed nervously and a little dismissively throughout.  First of all as an early childhood teacher I'd already seen my fair share of tantrums. Also, who records their kids' tantrums and puts them on youtube!!?

Then we became parents and tantrums became a part of our lives. I still wouldn't videotape them and show the world but... sometimes they are pretty spectacular.

This weekend we had a child tantrum because his sister bit him. We've also had tantrums triggered by: losing a privilege, having a new toy break, not having a turn, being hot, being tired, having the TV turned off, and being given the wrong snack.

But most tantrums are triggered by our nemesis: hunger.

All parents deal with tantrums. Toddlers are very prone to them. Living with a toddler has been described as ... insert your favorite irrational, unpredictable animal/human going through a life crisis. Our toddler, however, is not the tantrum leader in our house though. Her attempts at wailing and screaming and carrying on pale in comparison to the fits that her older brother can throw.  Plus we can still pick her up.  Daniel, on the other hand, is a strapping 65 pounds of pure blazing anger when he is upset.

Here is my advice to families considering adopting an older child: starting lifting weights. You'll need the muscles. And expect some screaming (and wailing, scratching, clawing, crying, kicking, biting, throwing, thrashing and sobbing).  Think of tantrums as a storm at sea: a tiny hurricane of emotion that has (for any number of reasons) overwhelmed your child.  Ride the waves, hold your child or sit next to them (remove sharp objects and keep them safe).  The waves will subside, leaving maybe a couple of broken bits of flotsam in its wake.  Take deep breaths and swim on.

When our son first came home, he tantrumed 2-3 times a day. (Wouldn't you!? Transported across the world with two strangers?!)  Then it became once a day.  Then once every few days, then once in a while.  Now he has them infrequently.  And they are almost always about being hungry + something else... Hungry+ lost a privilege, hungry + his sister bit him.

We're lucky. We haven't lost any valuable family heirlooms. We haven't had the cops called to our home. We haven't had to carry our son out of any public establishments. Not everyone is so blessed. So the next time you see a child being "tossed at sea" in the grocery store, think about throwing his/her parent a lifesaver.... a knowing smile.

we will win!

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