Tantrums and the Crying Couch

Our new house has a fab reading/sun room from which Punditdad can read the paper, drink coffee in the morning and survey his tiny kingdom while getting some inkling of the coming weather that day.  The room is suitable for the Bean’s toys, books and whatever other crap she has in those boxes.  This is where we read her books in the morning after breakfast.

Normally, we all get up between 6:30 and 7 AM, I feed the Bean, grab some food and coffee for myself while she eats, then we retire to the sun room for some books.  We are still trying to convey that we cannot read books indefinitely, that there can only be 5 or so books read every morning. Not 20.  I like to read the daily paper in the DAY that I get it.

Normally, when I bring the Chicago Tribune up to my face, this indicates that the books are done.  Yet a small hand grabs my arm and pleads “Peeeeezzzz” which is please in Bean-talk.

If a suitable breakfast has been consumed, then the tantrum simmers to disappointment and the issue is over.  We go about our business and I only have to wait about 20 more minutes before something else is demanded of me. If an insufficient amount of food has been consumed then a tantrum usually ensues.

I don’t get particularly upset over tantrums when we are home. I simply leave her on the couch and  go to the next room.  Tantrums are not encouraged, tolerated or in my case, viewed.  I usually move to another room and drink my coffee.  Hey, she’s screaming, I have warm delicious coffee, so what? At home, nobody can here you scream toddler!

Screaming in public is different and usually she is better about that, only when pushed to the limit or starving like an Ethiopian vagrant.  I don’t blame her.  Ask Punditmom on a Sunday afternoon when I’m grumpy and hungry….I’m usually a few seconds away from crying and screaming myself. But at home, wandering around screaming and crying isn’t tolerated so I  have created the “Crying Couch”.  You sit there during crying and nobody bothers you but nobody is paying attention to you.  Scream all you want, my coffee is still hot and there’s  plenty of cream in the fridge.  Let’s see how the Sox did. Can you see I’m disinterested?

I try not to let tantrums affect me.  It’s only at mealtime that I go into a berzerker rage over an upset toddler.  My eyes roll back into my skull, my face turns fire engine red and my chest heaves like a epileptic.   This usually causes the Bean to dump her plate over the highchair.  I usually convulse all around, flopping like a fish on a dock.   She knows how to push my  buttons I’ll hand it to her.  But lately, my cold and sadistic side has won out.  The code word is “all done”?  If that is said, the plate goes away. Doesn’t matter if you had two bites or the whole thing.  Her word is law on this.  So if she is playing with her food or generally disatisfied with the choice and I ask, “All done?”. She is reticent to say yes.

Toddlers, though young and inexperienced, aren’t stupid.  They get hungry and want to eat.  If they know it’s going away or the rules will be enforced, then poof, they start playing by the rules.  Is it always black and white? No, but rules like All Done and the Crying Couch make my life a little clearer.  Crying and screaming? Do it on the couch.  Playing and yelling about your food? All done see ya later.   Makes my job a little easier each time.   Besides, my coffee is getting cold.

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5 Responses

  1. Love your approach to tantrums. It’s simple psychology and common sense. I get a kick out of parents who try to talk their child out of tantruming, when clearly the best thing to do is to WALK AWAY, such as when you’re at home.

  2. great post! love the crying couch! good idea! KT’s only advice to you is this – know that one day, with no warning – those discipline techniques will fall flat on the bean and she’ll basically mock you and wonder if that’s all you got – so be one step ahead of her and know what round 2 (or round 2,324,121) technique is going to be because it can be very humbling and embarassing when the child out-wits you.

  3. Until the Bean learns to read herself, its very difficult to have the parent disappear behind the paper,and then when she does learn to read you will miss terribly the snuggles you had in those days when you read together.

  4. Dear Starbucks,

    Sweet cloumn. I counted 20 references to coffee.

  5. Child Behavior Modification is so tough. There are moments that yelling at them is not enough. Tantrums in toddlers start when they want something which they cannot get or even when you do what they don’t want to.

    According to Tantrum Toddlers Researcher, the best way to deal with toddlers tantrums is to create the best activities that are fun and educational. You have to remember that at this is the stage, child adopts all things that happen around him. This is also the best time to allow your child into different activities.

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