Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New Mommy Question - Tantrums

Thank you to Sarah for sending her to-do-list. I am setting up a card box with days of the week/months/etc and as soon as it is finished, I will share my results and how the new schedule is working.

Now to the questions... As you know we are learning about tantrums in our home. My way of dealing with them up to this point is to stay calm and ignore. It may or may not be working. She hasn't had one like that first horrific incident, but they are not gone - stop laughing - yes I thought with my great parenting skills they would be gone. I mean you have all (most) met my little munchkin, she is a good girl. She is easy - you tell me this and I tell me this. But there you have it, she throws herself on the ground (it actually looks more like a slow-motion bow) and cries. I know that consistency is a big part of teaching, so do I just stay the course or switch horses?

Also, do you agree with the following statement made at, "Never punish a tantrum! A tantrum should have no consequences, positive or negative. It happens and then it's over. Life goes on. The reasoning behind this rule is simple: tantrums should be treated like speed bumps. You may slow down and ease over them for a second, but then you get right back up to speed. They have absolutely no lasting power over you."

I think I do, but I am wondering what you think


jbhinman said...

This is my advice. I ignore them but send Jonah to his room until it is over. Then we discuss it after he calms down. I don't discuss or punish during because I have found that it makes it worse. I like sending him to his room because I don't need to listen to usually calms him faster. I find that usually his tantrums go hand in hand with hunger so I often discuss the issue, punish, then feed.

sarah said...

I think it is different for different ages-for example it is harder the older they are and really they need to know there are consequences for their behaviour. But Jack and Kaylynns age is harder because some of it is from natural frustration at a situation where they are not quite old enough to do-ie jack can pitch a good fit when trying to climb on the chair, but he keeps slipping off. A good friend told me to, redirect their attention and for Jack it really helps. Their little attentions spans are short so moving him onto something else or distracting him from what was causing the tantrum really helps. Never underestimate the power of distraction!!

Tina said...

That is great advice, thank you both very much. I kept getting confused about everything I read said afterwards talk to them about what they have done - really? A one-year old? So thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!

Diana said...

I agree that age makes a difference. If they are frustrated (like Sarah's illustration of Jack) moving them on to something different makes sense.
But when they hit 2 or so and do to get their attention, then it needs to stop. So then removing yourself from where they are having the tantrum usually halts the behavior. I can remember Joseph having one and Aunt Cynthia calmly stepping over him into another room and it stopped - no audience - no attention getting.

Aunt Diana

Kjerste said...

How you respond certainly does depend on the age of the child. However, the tantrum is happening, and by ignoring it, you are ignoring what is going on in your child's head, and more importantly, her heart. You may not be able to reason with her yet, but she needs to learn from the very beginning that throwing herself on the floor is an unacceptable way to respond to a situation. There may be a time to distract (beginning a battle with a tired child is usually pointless), but you should first calmly address the situation by firmly saying, "KayLynn! You must stop right now. That is inappropriate!" (You can vary how you say this or adjust it for her age.) Then move her on to something else, or say "Mommy can help you." Try even now teaching her to say "help" when she is frustrated. If she continues to pitch a fit, spanking is very appropriate. My pediatrician (a firm believer in Pastor Rayburn's parenting series) recommends a smart spank to the thigh anytime after 6 months of age. I believe that by allowing her to continue, you are condoning her behavior. If she were doing something physically harmful (i.e. walking into the road, reach for a knife), or willfully disobeying (stealing a cookie, or doing some other forbidden activity) looking away, or walking out of the room would be tantamount to giving your blessing to her behavior. How is choosing not to "recognize" her tantrum any different? She knows you saw her. By leaving the room, you are send the message that what she is doing is normal and perfectly o.k. You may not be giving her what she is throwing a fit over, but you are still not teaching her that what she is doing is wrong.

There is my lengthy "two bits". If you are interested in listening to Pastor Rayburn's parenting series, you're welcome to join our small group on Thursday nights!

Hilary Kvale said...

Rough times man. Don’t you just love it when the reach the terrible two’s early?
I know I don’t have my own children yet, but I was a nanny for two girls from birth till one was 3 and the other 2, plus years and years of my life baby sitting, and now teaching, can I still weigh in?

That age can be such a frustrating age. For children because they are learning independence and want to do everything on their own but when they get frustrated it is good to stop the tantrum and tell them you understand they are frustrated and instruct them to ask for help. Simply because they need to learn how to deal with their frustrations because adults have frustrations too, I can’t throw a fit every time I get frustrated (though I may want to) She needs to learn how to deal with her frustration by seeking help.

To me it always seemed like leaving the room just sent the message that the other person is choosing not to listen as opposed to the message that what they are doing is sinful and wrong. I had a coworker telling me about his adult fit the other day (he didn’t call it that but that’s what it was.) Someone broke his windshield and he went outside and cussed up a storm, throwing things, etc. his friend came and joined him, after that he moved on and was almost bragging about it. You want KayLynn to learn not to throw fits at all, not that it is okay to throw a fit and then move on with life, otherwise she will be an adult, throwing a fit like a two year-old, like my coworker. Children need to learn how to deal with their anger and frustration in a rational and submissive way to God’s will. When they get a little older, even 3 and 4 they can understand that God gives them everything, the good and the bad and that they must trust his wisdom in their lives and joyfully accept what he as given him.

There are my thoughts. Good luck! We’re praying for you, it’s not the easiest or most fun job but God has called you to it and if you are faithful he has promised to be faithful. Isn’t that such a comfort to know?

Derek said...


I disagree with the statement you quoted for a number of reasons.

First, I can't think of another problem you can solve simply by ignoring it and hoping it will go away. If a child faces no consequence for a sinful behavior, the child has literally no reason to stop the behavior.

Second, and I think this is most important, tantrums may have no lasting power over you, but they do have lasting power over the heart of the child throwing them. It is a sinful action stemming from the sinful heart of a child. Scripture teaches us children are sinful from birth, and as such, we need to train them in the way they should go. Ignoring a sinful action is tantamount to approving of it. If a parent steadfastly ignores the sin of the child, the heart learns nothing.

Like Hilary said, everyone has frustrations. Simply putting KayLynn in her room while she shrieks is going to teach her that it's an acceptable way to handle her frustration, just a normal situation... and it's not.

A child as young as KayLynn understands a spanking, especially when done in a proper, loving way. She already understands action and consequence. She knows that "Mama! Mama!" will get your attention. You mentioned a few days ago that a "reminder" kept her from further misbehavior at the doctor's office. KayLynn understands.

When Kaiya was younger, if she threw a fit, we would spank her first, kiss her, and then put her in her crib if it was still necessary, but usually, and with increasing frequency as we remained consistent, the spanking got her attention and she stopped immediately.

I hate, hate spanking Kaiya. It has literally brought me to tears before. But I also love to see her happy little face literally moments after the spanking and she's said "sawwee" and I tell her she is forgiven, and we hug and kiss and she goes on about her merry way.

I also know she's much happier having had the spanking and moving forward, than she would be if she were allowed to shriek at the top of her lungs simply because she's in her room.

Most importantly, I know that I've not allowed her natural (by which I mean sinful) impulses to go unchecked, and that Kaiya is much, much happier for that.

Dana said...

I would agree that it is an issue of the heart. I have an extra copy of Shepherding a Child's heart by Tedd Tripp.Here's a link to their website, where they are talking about toddlers and discipline. You and Max are both welcomed to read it!! It's a good parenting book. I am not done reading the book but every chapter so far is great! Some of the advice is for children alot older than ours but you get an idea of where to start when your kids are our kids ages. I think this is a book that I will be re-reading until Wesley and future children are out of the house. I would definitely pray for guidance and strength from the Lord as you take this situation on. I do know that you don't want this escalating into something that happens everywhere all the time. I am also a firm believer in spanking, when it's needed. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. I am quite certain that even at 14 mths KayLynn is aware of what is going on and is also aware of the reaction she gets from you and Max when she has a tantrum and uses it to her advantage. You & Max are both invited to the parenting class we are listening to. If you can't make it, there are other people at Faith who have copies of the Pastor Rayburn parenting series tapes.

Derek said...

I occurs to me as I read my own comment, that I may have been a bit "absolute" in my statements above. IT should be noted that I'm no expert on the matter, and have somewhat limited experience, both my children still being under the age of 2.

I hope nothing I said was offensive to you or anyone else. I just really feel strongly that tantrums are an issue of the sinful heart first and foremost, and ought to be addressed just as we would address any other sin - with discipline and lots of love!

Julie said...

Hi Tina--this is Julie here, not Haley. I just wanted to chime in on this topic. First of all, I want to say that I don't consider myself an expert or a perfect parent! I know many will disagree with me, but here it is anyway!
Regarding tantrums in general, I feel that many tantrums (not all) are easily avoided. Often we drag our kids everywhere, skipping naps, delaying meals and bedtime, and then we are surprised and dismayed when our baby has a tantrum. Very young toddlers just don't have the emotional or physical maturity to deal with hunger/tiredness/lack of attention as an adult or older child can. I once read in a Christian parenting book, that in those situations, it is the parent that needs the spanking, not the child! Obviously, we can't always avoid those kinds of circumstances, but I have been guilty of putting what I want to do or what is convenient for me above what is in the best interest of my baby. Not that we cater to our babies and make them the center of our universes, but it is important that their basic physical needs come before our wants.

As for whether or not to ignore a tantrum or spank, I don't agree that ignoring a tantrum is ignoring the sin. I don't think every act of discipline needs to be a spanking. Placing a toddler in her room and removing your attention from her is a form of discipline (i.e. teaching), and she is learning that when she behaves that way, she cannot be with the rest of the family. It is not telling the child that her tantrum is OK, its telling her that because it is not OK, she needs to be separated for awhile. I'm not saying that I would never spank for a tantrum, but that I don't think it's wrong NOT to spank for one. I think there can be more effective ways of eliminating them, which is ultimately what we want!

I am not anti-spanking at all--we have spanked our 5 kids (oldest is 15) and Jackson (1 year) has had a few, but I think that some Christians' ONLY form of discipline is spanking, and I really think spanking should be used more judiciously. We know parents who have spanked and spanked and spanked for absolutely everything, and one friend has expressed regret over how they handled their difficult toddler (spanking lots and in anger, etc..) who is now older. I definitely think that spanking has its place, but I think it is most effective when it isn't overused, especially if you have a child that misbehaves a lot :)

I know that many here won't agree with me, but this is what I have learned from parenting over the past 15 years, and making many mistakes along the way, I might add.

Julie said...

Haley, my 15 year old wanted me to clarify from my earlier post that she DOESN'T get spanked now, in case I made it sound that way!