I consider myself lucky that neither of my girls has ever really been the type to throw a temper tantrum. Even as toddlers, they were pretty easy going.
I know, I’ve been incredibly lucky. I don’t know how I would have handled them if they have been tantrum throwers. Wait, I guess I do. My youngest brother is thirteen years younger than I am. I took care of him a lot when he was very young. Once I was driving, I often took him shopping with me. When he was four and I was seventeen, we were at our local K-Mart. He wanted a toy. I actually had the toy in the cart but we needed to shop for a few other things.
Little brother, once his toy was in the cart, wanted to leave so he could play with his new toy in the car.
I told him we’d leave when we had everything we needed. He insisted, loudly, that we needed to leave right then. I told him that if he didn’t calm down, we would leave right then but we’d leave our cart right where it was and not buy anything, not even his toy.
That made him flip his little four-year-old lid. He started crying, flung himself onto the floor and basically made a scene. I picked him up, left our cart right where it was, and left the store.
The minute I put him in the car, he calmed down and promised that he’d be good if we went back in the store.
I told him it was too late and we went home.
He never threw another tantrum while out with me again.
Ha! Big sister for the win. I don’t think he ever threw a tantrum with my mom either, I mean, where do you think I learned that little trick?
My girls, though, all I had to do was threaten them with leaving and they calmed down and we finished our shopping with no scenes necessary.
This weekend, though, Olivia was on the verge of a tantrum.
She’d eaten a bowl of Cheerios. She’d enjoyed that bowl of Cheerios and wanted more.
Tom poured some more Cheerios into the remaining milk in her bowl.
“I need more milk too,” she told him.
He told her she had plenty of milk in there for the amount of Cheerios he’d put in the bowl.
She told him she did NOT have enough milk and ordered him to put some more on top of the Cheerios.
He insisted that she did have enough milk and told her to eat her cereal.
Olivia’s eyes bulged a little. She sat straight in her chair and thrust her arms straight down at her sides with her hands fisted in fury. She looked her dad straight in the eye and said, “IT. NEEDS. MORE. MILK.”
I turned away because, dude, that was some funny shit going down at the table. Tom looked in her bowl, stirred the milk and cereal and decided it wasn’t worth the fight. He got her more milk.
He averted the tantrum…by giving her what she was demanding.
Eh, whatever. She ate the Cheerios happily and when she was finished with the second bowl asked for more again.
This time, I was in charge of the Cheerios and milk. I poured a small amount into her bowl and topped it off with milk.
She looked into the bowl and asked, “Why that much?”
I knew where this was going. She wanted to know why I hadn’t filled the bowl the way it had been filled the two times before.
I told her, “Because this is your third helping, you don’t need a full bowl. If you finished what I just put in there, you can have more.”
“But I want more now,” she informed me calmly.
“If you eat what I just put in there, you can have more,” I repeated.
She refused to eat what I’d poured. “I need you to put more in the bowl,” she insisted.
I insisted right back, “I need you to eat what is in there and if you finish it, I’ll give you more. You have already had two bowls full, you can’t possibly want another full bowl.”
“But I do!” she said.
“So eat what is in that bowl and I’ll give you more.”
“No! You need to give me more now.”
No, I didn’t need to give her more. I knew at this point that she was arguing for the sake of arguing. She wasn’t even hungry anymore and I knew we were going to throw out at least part of what I’d already put in the bowl. There was no reason to fill it up and have to toss even more perfectly good food.
So, I refused to fill her bowl and she refused to take even one bite out of a partially filled bowl.
I’m pretty sure no one won that argument but neither of us cared enough to battle it out. Once I told her to eat what was in the bowl, I walked away, refusing to engage in the argument anymore.
She decided that if I wasn’t going to argue with her anymore, she was done eating anyway.
I hope this isn’t a sign of thing to come with this child, this sweet child who used to be so easy going, so mild mannered, so even tempered.