Monday, December 05, 2011

12/5/2011 The NPR show about tantrums!

I am really surprised at how many people I know -- or sort-of know, or used to know -- heard this on the radio this morning and contacted us!

What's Behind A Temper Tantrum? Scientists Deconstruct The Screams

The screams that the scientists deconstruct are Katrina's. Lots of listeners have said "Ugh! That's awful!" One friend even said, "That must have been a rough night!" Yeah, awful, for sure. But one rough night? No. That was daily, for well over a year. Regular readers will recall my complaints about Katrina's "dinnertime tantrums" -- that video was just one of many such tantrums.

And she wasn't nearly as bad as Gabriel was.

Everyone in the world has an opinion about this. The comments on NPR's blog page are telling. Most are pretty judgmental, though what they say tends to fall into one of two categories: One, you're a horrible parent because you didn't ignore the tantrum; or Two, you're a horrible parent because you didn't spank the brat.

Of course, some tantrums can't be ignored, and to my delight, these now have a name: "escape" tantrums. That's a tantrum that's thrown to avoid doing something you've been told to do. What a great way to get out of putting your shoes away: throw a major tantrum, you get sent to your room, and don't have to do what you were told! Cool!

And of course, spanking doesn't end screaming and crying. For a real tantrumer like Gabriel, it could even give the tantrum new (negative) energy. I can see spanking a child who's old enough if they do something really egregious or destructive, but that'd be to address that immediate behavior, not the tantrum itself.

Ironically, I have seen spanking break a kid out of a nasty jag -- and that kid is Julian, our one non-toddler-tantrumer. To this day, there are times he resists doing something every step of the way and is so obnoxious and dangerous (flailing around so I get whacked in the face), that a spanking will settle him down. He'll cry, but he'll stop. It's really pretty remarkable. That doesn't work on Gabriel, and we've never tried on Katrina.

But overall, the know-it-all advice from the armchair parents out there is much the same as I got throughout my years of dealing with tantrums: overall not very applicable or useful. The reporter even asked me during the interview if I'd give any advice to a parent I saw dealing with a tantruming kid, and I said no, I wouldn't give them advice because I don't know anything about the surrounding circumstances. But if I were to do anything, it'd be to give them support, a "hang-in-there" sign, because that's what made me feel better.

Thank heavens this is all in the past tense. Mostly.


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