I am confronted with the problem on a daily basis ----- I see it acted out by kids in my office ---- I hear the parents cry [sometimes literally] ---- and, if the truth be told, very few [parents, that is] deal with it appropriately------------temper tantrums.
The little kid doesn’t get to have his own way, so the performance begins--------
Act I ------- He cries loudly, sometimes breath-holding, while stomping his feet or jogging on this spot.
Act II ------- He proceeds to throw himself to the ground in a sitting position while continuing to wail as if he’s been mortally wounded while beating the ground [or any object/person in his vicinity] with his feet.
Act III ------ He then throws himself backwards into a supine position [usually taking care to prevent personal injury] and wails even louder. The feet continue as mentioned above, but now the trunk and the upper limbs get into the act as he thrashes around on the ground.
P.S. If the performance has reached this stage without adult intervention, the aforementioned movements may be briefly aborted while the eyes open to determine whether or not the audience has taken note of the brilliance of said performance. If by this time the desired effect has not been achieved, an unsolicited encore may take place.
Well if it nuh go so, is almost so it go.
------- The Temper Tantrum.
Parents need to realise that the desired effects which the kid seeks are:
- To get their attention
- To get them to “run to his rescue”
- To get HIS OWN WAY!!!
Over the years, I’ve often asked parents what they thought would be best done to a child who gave such an oscar-winning-type performance.
Here are the results of the impromptu galloping poll, and my thoughts thereon ....
…….. “Bus ‘im ass, Doc” -------- I don’t think so!
…….. “Carry ‘im to ‘madda’ mek she give ‘im a bath, Doc” -------- I most definitely would not recommend this line of action!
…….. “The child is spoiled, Doctor. He is just like his brother, and they both take after their father” ………hmmmh, …….. maybe we’re now getting somewhere. You see, kids do not spoil themselves, and neither has any gene been discovered to date [as far as I know, anyway] for “spoilification”.
The truth is, and hang onto your seats now, parents ………. if the kid behaves in this manner, there is a flaw in the parenting process, ….. or in the parent!
Various Paediatricians/Child Psychologists will have varying solutions to this very common and very embarrassing [for the parents, that is] problem. For myself, I have found one very simple, very cheap, and very effective remedy. To date I cannot recall one reported failure WHEN PROPERLY APPLIED AND STRICTLY ADHERED TO. Here goes ………..
During Act I - Extend one of the child’s arms with palm facing upwards and administer one firm [and somewhat painful] slap to his palm. (Please note, there is no need to ‘bus ‘im ass’). The slap should be accompanied by a loud shout of “No”!
During Act II - Leave alone and ignore.
During Act III – Leave alone and ignore.
Rules of Engagement
- Should the child fall asleep on the ground at the end of Act III, leave him there and let him wake up there.
- Should the performance be prolonged with neither intermission nor conclusion in sight, resist all temptation to abort the performance by rushing to his aid and picking him up.
- Ensure that ALL persons who have to deal with the problem at home do so in exactly the same fashion. On many occasions, the programme is sabotaged by a “loving Grandma” who secretly “runs to his rescue” when everyone else follows the routine …… if this happens the process is doomed to failure.
A few doses of this remedy, [strictly and consistently applied] and he will quickly realize that despite his flawless performance, nought has been achieved, and the tantrums will cease.
Having said all this, please remember that while firm (and sometimes painful) discipline is necessary, it must NEVER be done in anger, and must always be followed by reconciliation.
Parenting kids is never easy, but we have the example of our Heavenly Father who disciplines justly, sometimes painfully, yes, but always with love and mercy.
Dr. John Royes