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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Temper Temper!

I have a toddler and there are so many wonderful things that my little man is discovering and learning from telling his parents more or less what he needs (snack, milk, etc.,)to discovering the world around him from body parts, new fascination with the outdoors and a new love of playgrounds. There are so many pros, but there is also one little con about having a toddler, the temper tantrums.

I will be first to say that I am a huge softie when it comes to my little man. After all he is a bundle of cuteness and he is my first and only child (for now). With being an only child he does get his fair share of lots of attention, but I am determined that he will be a well rounded individual in faith, spirit, education and manners. I don't want my son to be "one of those kids". You know the type of kids that you don't want at your house or the type of kids that can't behave while they are out in public. He is a great kid and is a trooper, but there are those times as any parent with a small kid can attest that temper tantrums do happen.

Thankfully most of the time these tantrums happen at home. Sometimes it is over frustration of not being able to put all the toys in his little basket that he wants and sometimes its things that he wants and can not have or do. For instance, trying to push a case of coke cans across the kitchen floor to touch unlit burners. This is an obvious no no and I nipped that one in the bud with a few minute time outs, which thankfully worked. However, this didn't come without a temper tantrum. I felt badly for him, but obviously safety comes first.

Like a lot of parents and especially new parents, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right. At my son's pediatrician appointment, the doctor asked if I had any questions. I wanted to know what to do about temper tantrums and rather or not I am addressing them correctly. To be honest, his words were the best piece of advice I have gotten in a long time and it confirmed that I was doing mostly everything okay.

The doc told me that if he is frustrated about something like not being able to put the amount of blocks he wants in his basket or can't figure out a puzzle then to come eye level to him and affirm his little worries with saying something along the lines is "its okay, I understand you are frustrated, but this basket is too small to put everything you want in there." Obviously with a toddler he gets it maybe 10% of the time in what I am saying in situations like this, but it affirms that its okay to be frustrated. His little emotions are justified and his Mommy or Daddy understand that. However, when he having a temper tantrum over not being able to go outside right before bed time or not being able to touch the stove then my husband and I are to ignore the tantrum and not give in to whatever he wants when he is done. Otherwise he will learn that if he gives that tantrum and then decides to stop he will think through his actions he will get what he wants.

Those words have honestly helped us in our household. Its simple directions, but the extra added "to do" things have helped. We have also implemented time out for major things like trying to touch the stove. He doesn't stay in his time out for long (a minute for every year of life), but it shows him that if he does something hugely wrong and he has been told multiple times not to do that, then he gets to go somewhere that is boring and not very pleasant. We don't put him in his crib because I don't want to associate his sleeping spot as being a punishment, but we will take a chair out and have him sit in a corner while my husband and I are closely nearby. It works as he cries it out and figure his little tantrum isn't getting anywhere and his tantrums usually don't last that long.

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