Curbing My Daughter’s Tantrums


You cannot change others others,

you can only change yourself!

Have you ever heard that quote? Or some variation of it?  I haven’t a clue where it came from but I’ve found it to be very true.  My four year old daughter has been going through a thing lately.  She drops into tantrums with the drop of a hat.  She’s been terribly disobedient and awfully fresh.  We battle to get her to do anything at all for herself.  Dinner time has been regulated to an all out war! Perhaps we could blame this on the arrival of her baby sister?  Maybe not because I remember her brothers going through this at exactly the same age.  Whatever the cause it is something that has to be dealt with.

So how have I been dealing with it?  Each time she refuses to do what we ask or drops herself into a tantrum we would scoop her and drop her in her bed.  This didn’t end the tantrums.  NOT. AT. ALL!  In fact it escalated things.  BIG TIME!  Can you hear me sighing over here?  A bad tantrum would turn into blood curdling SCREAMING FITS complete with her banging her door like she meant to break it down.  By this point she’d be completely unable to hear me even when I did my best to calmly bring her down.  Then of course I would get even more riled up myself so I’d break into yelling.  Nope, that didn’t help either.  I’d have to wait her out.  I’ve been exasperate with her!  How come she does not respond to reasonable punishment!

As I sat outside her door developing my own throbbing headache that beat in time to the pounding she was inflicting on the door it hit me… the quote above… like a ton of bricks!  What I was doing clearly wasn’t working.  I couldn’t change her so I had to change me.

That tantrum finally ended and I vowed to rein in my emotions and do things differently next time.  My plan of action… distract, ignore if need be, and pour on the praise.  When I saw a spout of disobedience coming, instead of warning her she’d have to go to her room if she didn’t do as she was told I tried to make a game of things.  “Oh, I wonder if you could finish your dinner before I do!”  If she wanted something she couldn’t have I thought of something else that she COULD have that’d be delightful to her… distraction.  If these ideas were successful then I’d dance around the house singing her praises for a job well done.  SHE BEAMS when I do that.  If my tactics failed then I just completely ignored her tantrum.  I now do everything I can to avoid escalating it further.

I can’t control her.  I can’t MAKE her obey.  I can’t DEMAND she turn off a tantrum like a switch.  But I can change how I respond to her.  SO far so good… she is going with the flow far better, she is becoming independent again, and her tantrums are shorter and fewer in number.

My new mantra… I can only control myself!

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