It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Tantrum Monday

Well. Four-year-old Hunter’s first day, and I got to put my money where my mouth was in the tantrum department. He was not at all pleased when mom left, and let us all know it. A yelling, screaming, and I do mean toenails-being-plucked-out screaming, flailing, spitting, kicking, head-banging tantrum. Phew. However, I prevailed, and within five minutes of his mother’s departure, he was playing trains in the kitchen with the other children. His shoulders still shuddered bytimes with post-sob residue, but calm.

It was exciting! It was fascinating. Is it too weird of me to admit that I got a whole lot of satisfaction out of taming this tantrum? Stuff like this is a true professional challenge for someone in my line of work. It’s like a puzzle, in which you must balance principles against practicalities, the needs of the various parties to the drama, and come up with the course of action that will attain your goal: happy children playing co-operatively together.

And I did it. He did it. We did it. Yay for us! Wonder what next Monday will be like???

September 26, 2005 - Posted by | aggression, power struggle, tantrums


  1. What, no video? I’m more of a visual learner. 😛

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  2. Now there’s a thought! It would be at least PG13, though. Don’t let Lauren watch. (No point in giving her ideas…)

    Comment by Mary P. | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  3. If I’d had to deal with that today I probably would have just shut myself in the bathroom and cried.

    I don’t think many people would be as delighed as you were to deal with a tantrum. 🙂

    Comment by Haley | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  4. Hmm. I’m not sure if “delighted” is exactly the word, but “pumped” might be a good one. I rise to the challenge, don’t you know.

    Comment by Mary P. | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  5. You should consider lion taming as an alternative career.

    Comment by MIM | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  6. But MIM, how different would it be? Okay, maybe the kids don’t shed as much . . . otherwise, pretty much the same. Oh, the WHIP! I assume no whips at Mary P’s, yes?

    Congratulations, to you AND Hunter. And best of luck next week.

    Comment by Susan | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  7. Well done Mary.

    Sounds like you enjoyed that one far too much though! 😉 Is there a scale for measuring tantrums? On the Beaufort scale (Wind measurement) princess number one used to be able to score a ten out of twelve. I think that princess number two is still only up to nine, but she’s got about another year to try for those double digits.

    Comment by Simon P. Chappell | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  8. mim, Susan: But lions can actually hurt you! Toddlers? They’re a lot of sound and fury, not a real threat. (See my comment to Simon, below.) No, no whips. Some days an iron hand in a velvet glove, though.

    Simon: This was the worst toddler tantrum I’ve ever been involved with. It’d be a 9.8, I think. Pretty decent, all in all.

    A little background on me might explain my attitude to tantrums: I used to work in a group home for developmentally and behaviourally challenged adults. When you’ve seen a 5’10”, 235 pound man (to my 5’6″, and 123 pounds back then) throw a toddler-style tantrum – complete with hurling furniture hither and yon – you get a whole new perspective on tantrums. After that experience, it seems a bit ridiculous to be intimidated by a tantrum-mer who only reaches mid-thigh…

    Comment by Mary P. | September 26, 2005 | Reply

  9. my little syd is ‘discovering’ the range of her voice. lately i’ve been getting slight headaches whenever she screeches in repeative ‘notes’. her screeching is sometimes followed with i-want-attention mini-tantrums. i’m not looking forward to the full-blown version. maybe i need to invest in some earplugs. : )

    Comment by jungs | September 27, 2005 | Reply

  10. Hello, and Welcome! How old is she? By the pics in your blog I’d guess in the 15 – 19 months range. Am I close?

    Some people opt to live with the happy screeching until she outgrows it. I have a very low tolerance for noise, however, and so I’d probably teach her an “inside voice”, for my own sanity!

    How, you ask?

    I make it a game that’s fun for the child. First, you define your terms: you say something in a big, screeching voice, (much like hers!) and tell her, “That was mommy’s outside voice.” Then you speak in an exaggeratedly soft voice, and explain that this is your inside voice.

    Then you practice with her. “Let’s make an outside voice.” “And now an inside voice.” (This game best played outdoors: the idea being you can make an “inside” voice anywhere, but outside is just for outside!)

    Now that she understands the vocabulary, when she makes that screech in the house, you can remind her: “That was your outside voice. Please use your inside voice.” Or, when it’s been well established, simply a warning “Inside voice, Syd.”

    And yes, it means you might have to put up with it in the park…

    Hope this helps!

    Comment by Mary P. | September 27, 2005 | Reply

  11. Other than my co-workers, I’ve not had much experience with the developmentally sub-normal, but your point is a good one.

    For me, 6’2″ and north (very north!) of 200lb for most of my adult life and Judo trained, it’s always been hard to get too worked up about someone elses tantrum either. It’s not like I’m in much danger! 🙂

    Comment by Simon P. Chappell | September 27, 2005 | Reply

  12. “Other than my co-workers”. Snort. I’m sure they’d appreciate that!

    Comment by Mary P. | September 27, 2005 | Reply

  13. I’ve met my co-workers … I stand by my statement! 🙂

    Comment by Simon P. Chappell | September 27, 2005 | Reply

  14. nice suggestion. i’ll have to give that a try. thanks! yes, syd is 16 months old. and, i’m discovering, her energy level is continuing to go up. very curious and playful. makes the screech sessions not so bad…sometimes.

    Comment by jungs | September 27, 2005 | Reply

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