Let’s get this straight. I am from a family that believed in putting belt to behind when children acted up. And since I’m fully disclosing here, I’m a country girl and can remember my grandmother going out to a peach tree and picking a switch off the tree to keep disobedient little ones in line.
What I don’t remember is getting spankings. Maybe it was the fear of said spankings that kept my behind and legs largely belt and switch free. But the point is, I knew what could happen if I crossed the line. So, I rarely did.
Now, enter me and my 21st-century hubby. We have a toddler whose tantrums are escalating. She seems to delight in figuring out just how far she can go before mommy and daddy have to raise our voices. When we tell her ‘No,’ or take away something she wants, she gives an Oscar-worthy dramatic performance. She doesn’t fall out. But as she struggles to find her words, she gets more satisfaction out of flailing her arms about and stomping her feet. And, now, she throws things. Upset with what’s in her sippy cup? Watch out, incoming Gerber missile. Mad that she can’t eat crayons? Here we go again.
Yes, yes, yes. I get that she’s frustrated. And nurturer aside, I know I’m supposed to toe the line and discipline her. But what does that discipline look like? We are not spanking her. We don’t want to teach her to hit. We don't want to hurt her, and we don’t want to go to jail. Studies also show that spanking now can lead to big problems later.
So, we’re re-directing. Or we turn our attention to something else when she has her fits. After a few seconds, the tantrum usually passes. But what in the name of Nanny 911 is this about? And, more importantly, how do we handle it?
-- Sherri Day