Sleep Advice

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Outlasting the Tantrum

I have had the absolute privilege to attend a two part lecture on parenting delivered by Mary Willow of Plum Parenting (click on the link to go to her website)

Munchkins has been a bit neglected recently as I have been sooo busy managing my lovely boys.  Since Mitchell's PS he has grown in leaps and bounds and in fact started commando crawling, just over 6 months old.  Cadell suffered a little from less Mummy time combined with being a nearly 4 year old, testosterone surge and learning well and trully how to push my buttons and find the boundaries.

We have also had a sleep deprived Mumma.  Mitch was sleeping through, Cadell was waking 1-2 times a night with nightmares.  He is mostly over that now but Mitch is becoming super hungry, clingy and teething, taking up to two hours to settle properly to sleep for the night and waking at least once.

Oh the endless challenges of parenting!

So Mary's talk at our local Waikato Waldorf School was very timely for our family.

She gave an example of Mum and daughter at the supermarket.  Mum usually gets her daughter a lollipop at the end of the shopping so as to get her through the supermarket without dramas.  But the dentist has said her teeth aren't looking so good and its time to cut out the bad habit.  Mum is all prepared and ready to say "Sorry darling, no lollipops today"  The fallout is intense...

The girl melts down and (goes into "hindbrain and "little self") and throws her body onto the floor, blocking the aisle for the other customers.

Sound familiar?  I fortunately have not had this at the supermarket, but we certainly get our fair share of full blown tanties!


Think about the environment you are in, customers looking at you like you are "one of those Mothers" with a demon child.  People are annoyed because of the screaming and the fact that your child is blocking the aisle.  And to top it off you have to be at an appointment in 20minutes!!!

For our family as much as possible we have always tried to ignore the tantrum, or take our son to his room when we say "come out when you can ....."  When he comes out he says he's sorry, and then he does what was expected of him.  Its worked most of the time! (Courtesy of Diane Levy "Of course I love you now go to your room")  But in this very public situation it could be a) dangerous to leave the child there by ignoring them and b) it is disrespectful to inconvenience other customers while your child has a paddy on the floor.

These are the steps Mary Willow suggested work for her (in her YEARS of experience as a Kindy teacher and Mother)  Your goal is: OUTLAST THE TANTRUM, and GET HOME WITHOUT THE LOLLIPOP!

  1. Remove the child to a safe place.  Never grab a limb, try to scoop them up or "hug" around their waist/upper body, with a hand to protect your face from a headbutt!  Preferably take them to a calmer and safer place, toilets perhaps.  NEVER make eye contact!  And don't talk to your child.
  2. Once in the better place, you have two jobs.  Be present for your child, show with your body the unconditional love you have for them by being there, but be detached.  Their work is occurring during their tantrum, crying screaming etc., they need to work this through.  You busy yourself doing something menial!  Still DO NOT make eye contact and DO NOT talk to them
  3. In time (however long that maybe!) they will begin to pull themselves together.  Do a test touch, if they escalate again they are not ready (literally a wee prod!)  If they ok with the touch then it is time to scoop them up and give what Diane Levy refers to as a "boring cuddle".  Mary suggests rocking as it is soothing.  DO NOT TALK, DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT.  If you then say "Now that was silly..." You will begin another melt down.
  4. When the childs breathing calms down then you return to the trolly, go through the checkout and go home. DO NOT TALK about the situation
  5. The "hind brain" has now laid down a new experience to replace the old.  It "heard" "I survived that, I'm alive" and a change takes place that rewires this hind brain "thinking"
The next time she goes to the supermarket, she may ask but will not melt down when the answer is no. But there you have done it!

As you can probably tell from my CAPITAL letters, the greatest thing I have learnt as a VERY verbal person with a VERY verbal son, talking will not appeal to the hind brain in a melt down situation, even post tantrum talking will not help.

This also means that when you tackle these situations, MAKE TIME.  Don't schedule a doc appointment or whatever, free up time.  As I read somewhere, when you are making a bed and your toddler tries to "help", .... you can make the bed again but you cant make the child again.  So what if you miss the doctors appointment, you can always make another one.

Anyway, my little one is having a tantrum of his own so that's all for now!  I'd love to know what works for you in these type of situations, and if this approach will work for you.

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