Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tackling tantrum throwing

Different couples have different reasons for having children. Ours was a bit complicated and some day I will note it down (makes for insightful reading).

Bottom line is we not just had one child, but two. Now there is a very good reason for that too. Read about it here...

However, as any parent in this world will tell you, while parenting has its obvious joys, parenting two kids also has its challenges. Handling both of them, the sibling rivalry and trying to be 'reasonable' and 'fair' to both (even in the midst of a terrible fight), has never been easy. But I have found a via media, a veritable middle path that I use in tackling some of the 'sensitive' issues between them, and I am sharing four of those 'tactics' here. 

When my children hear me mouth the following words they think I am insensitive and impolite. To me, this is the only way to avoid losing my temper, shouting at them and in the bargain, feeling miserable. 

Here's a list of what generally gets my goat and how I deal with it:

1. Crying - Really loud. Most likely in a public place. Or in the midst of a guest/relative/friend. For a vague reason that could range from "You always buy her/him everything and me nothing" or "I REALLY want to play now and you are saying 'study'"....

I shush them quiet and say "I don't want to 'hear' a sound. Cry in your mind."

First few years they'd actually become quiet and calm down and figure out 'how' to cry in their mind. Sometimes I would go a step further and tell them "I don't mind if you cry. I don't want to hear it. Thats all."

Then came a phase when they would irritatingly ask me, "How can I cry in my mind?" 

Now at 12 and 8, they just quieten down. Guess they've also learned that I am deaf as long as they screech and I am also beyond embarrassment with their tantrum throwing.

It works!

Sometimes I am at my wits' end and then I remember how my mother used to tackle us. She would find it hard to ignore us, if we (like my own tots do) kept tugging at her clothes, chin, hands whatever to grab her attention and get her to "accept" that she would shout at the brother/sister who was hassling us... But finally she would give in and say:
"I will shout at him/her when I find them alone next."

If we protested, she would say in her sweetest voice, "It doesn't look nice to shout at him/her in front of so many people. So I will do it when I find him/her alone."

What it does is calms the situation down for that moment. Kids being kids soon forget the reason why they were squabbling or fighting and the issue is laid to rest without actually screaming/shouting/threatening the child, and thus avoiding another confrontation ("You don't love me..."....)

I use the same tactic. And this one works too.

Of course when the children realise that this is just a way of postponing the crisis or brushing it under the carpet, they DO get mad and shout, "But you never do it!" or "I KNOW you won't shout at him/her..."

But, in my experience, it is a better way of dealing with intense sibling rivalry or tattle telling...

3. Love - When their fights go beyond the usual "I hate you" I stop and remind them how much their sibling loves them. "But she/he loves you so much..." This sentence almost always gets to them to stop mid-way and listen to you through the crying and tears. 

The older one does sometimes say "No he doesn't..." to which I always promptly say "He does. If you stop fighting you'll see the love"...

This works too :-)

4. Hugs - What child hasn't questioned your love for them? As a parent, don't we often hear, "You love her more than me..." or "You love him so much you agree to everything he says"...

I often tackle this by hugging them real tight and telling them that I love them as much as I do their brother/sister... After the initial resistance, that lasts a minute perhaps, I feel their bodies slacken and give in to the hug. Then they hug me back. 

A hug can heal any thing. Believe me... This one works like magic!

Images courtsey: Google Images
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