Throwing a Tantrum

Temper Tantrums are something I know more than a little about.  In fact, between being the Mom to eight children and parenting for the last two decades perhaps I could say that I have earned a Master’s Degree in temper tantrums.  I have seen and experienced them all:

  • The scream in your face looking like you are going to kill someone tantrum
  • The dash down the hall yelling hysterically tantrum
  • The turn your back on Mommy and fold your arms while stomping your feet tantrum
  • The hold your breath until you pass out tantrum
  • The jumping up and down whining & crying tantrum
  • The pulling on Mommy’s arms or a leg or piece of clothing while verbally assaulting her tantrum
  • The hitting of your fists on anything or anyone close by tantrum
  • The “I may be sitting on the outside but I am standing on the inside” tantrum
  • The slam your door and turn up the music loud enough to raise the roof tantrum
  • The “whatever” said under your  breath while rolling your eyes tantrum

And my personal favorite

  • The lay on the floor in the middle of the grocery store kicking and screaming tantrum (it really is my favorite because it makes me laugh hysterically)

Whew! Just thinking about all those temper tantrums makes me weary.  Yes, tantrums are, among many other unpleasant things…exhausting.  And they all boil down to the same root cause whether the child having the tantrum is two or twelve,  it all comes down to not getting their own way.   It may be something they want to have (or not have like vegetables or vitamins), something they want to do (or not do like take a bath or go to bed) or a place they want to go (or not).  Sometimes those desires are ridiculous, unacceptable, dangerous, selfish, inappropriate, unhealthy or unaffordable. And other times they are perfectly ok but the timing, situation or circumstance is not ideal.  

Today I realized I was having a little bit of an adult tantrum as I wandered from room to room thinking about several areas of my life that I needed to get under control.  (definition of an adult temper tantrum is the same as for our kids:  I am not getting my way and I am not happy about it so I react inappropriately, inwardly or outwardly, it is just that we are usually more dignified and refined in our tantrum throwing.) As I listened to myself, talk to myself (whoa…are there three people living inside my head…I promise I am not crazy!) it was all too clear that yes, I was throwing a tantrum because I wasn’t getting my way.  True confessions – it went something like this:

 Self: You really need to get back on that exercise routine and start eating healthy again!

 Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t…. w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Self: Ok Beth, you are supposed to be starting a ministry here. It is time to set up regular working hours and begin actively pursuing your goals and dreams. Time to get going girl!

Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t…. w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Self:  The home school kids need to be put on a daily schedule. The free for all is not working on any level for this group of students (and maybe it didn’t work for the older girls but if not they sure “faked it” well) So sit down and set up their routine and then hold their feet to the fire to be sure they stick with it.

Self throwing an adult tantrum (said with really whiny voice): W-h-y? But….I don’t….w-a-n-t  to!  Do I have to?  That’s no fun. It’s too hard.  Isn’t there an easier way?  It’s not fair…why can’t I just be like _________ who doesn’t have to deal with things like this?  I would rather lay around drinking an ice coffee and eating dark chocolate mints while reading a good book, watching a movie or bouncing around the Internet from emails or facebook to news or blogs with no responsibility and not a care in the world.

Not very pretty, eh?  I tell ya, I wouldn’t take that type of talk from my kids in a “New York minute”!

As I saw the pattern repeating it almost became amusing, even to me, that I was actually throwing a tantrum in my head.  But a few minutes later when Christiana began to throw her own screaming tantrum over not getting to play with my cell phone I did not find it amusing whatsoever. (yes,  it has already begun at 18 months)

Here is how I attempt to handle any and all temper tantrums from my kids no matter what age they are:

  1. They do not ever, under any circumstance, get their way! (did I say Never do they ever get their way? Good because that is what I meant…never, ever do they get their way…nope…never)
  2. I ignore the tantrum (unless they are harming themselves or others then I physically restrain them..since they usually only do this at fairly young ages car seats in the living room worked great)
  3. If it continues I smile and say (with sass & a bit of a drawl!) – “Is that working for you babycakes?” cause it is sure not going to work with me so you go on and have fun with that little fit you are having  (in our house the saying goes like this – “ya get what ya get and ya don’t throw a fit”)
  4. And if they are really going at it full force (and not harming anyone) I full on laugh at them in the midst of the tirade. (for some reason this is really easy for me to do because I do find kids on the floor throwing fits pretty amusing or maybe it is amusing to me that they actually think that they will win with that strategy)

So folks….I am putting my little bratty tantrum self on notice –

You are not going to get your way!   You will get up and get going in all these areas that need attention in your life. They are important and valuable and you will do what needs to be done! Let’s have at it!

Is that working for you?  That little fit you are throwing in your heart and mind? (answer…ummmm NOT!)

“Ya get what ya get (your metabolism, your body, your financial & life situation, your calling, the current ages & temperaments of your kids at home during this season of life)….and ya don’t throw a fit!”  Get over it and get on with it!

And then I am going to laugh that little tantrum thrower right out of my mind!

Anyone else out there dealing with a little tantrum today?

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7 Comments

Filed under Attitude, Life Lessons, Lifes Challenges, Motherhood, Parenting

7 responses to “Throwing a Tantrum

  1. Leah Kidger

    Hey Beth,

    Oh my word!!!!! I just sat down at my computer after a FULL BLOWN TANTRUM from Emma!!!! I’m working from home, trying to meet a deadline and even have a babysitter for the kids but, NO!
    They want mommy! Abbey woke us all up at 4am with a SCREAM so, we’re all very tired from interrupted sleep. I regret, we went back to sleep only to be late getting Emma to school and dealing with Abbey who napped but never went to sleep!
    Its been a trying day!!!!

    Emma likes to SLAM doors…What? She’s just turning 6! So, what is working for me, each time she slams a door, something gets taken away…. 🙂

    She also gets sent to her room for 6 mins (age) and then I come in and she has to apologize and acknowlege what she did. She gets her “stuff” back when I see good behavior. I love to give her something (that is really, already hers) and say, wow, I like how you…… Seems to work for now.

    But, yes, the temper tantrums WIPE ME OUT!! I wish I could laugh it off like you do and will honestly try it! It seems I get more angry watching the tantrum and take it so personal that they are defying me! It is so hard to watch my children “loose control and go AWOL!

    Loved your blog today…I have the same 3 voices in my head, I’m right there with you! I say, WHY DO I HAVE TO WORK??? Why can’t I be a stay at home mom and just “BE” with my kids….ugh.

    Love you, (better get back to that deadline)
    Leah

  2. Can I tell you that I experienced the worse tantrum ever thrown by my three year old this past weekend in the middle of Target cause I wouldn’t buy him a toy?? He jumped out of the cart, started screaming and flailing his arms and legs while every nosy body stopped to stare.

    I took him to the bathroom with the intentions of spanking his heiny but, instead, had to restrain him from banging his head against the wall. By the way, a screaming child in a public bathroom only echoes even louder and draws more attention to the situation.

    After several minutes of continuing his tantrum, I ended up throwing him over my shoulder, walked out to the car to strap him in (FOREVER), wherein he proceeded to challenge me by straightening his body.

    The following day, as we were driving by Target, he had the audacity to say, “Let’s go to Target mama!”

  3. Priceless!
    I always envision how many times in my life I’ve looked like a little kid pitching one of these eloquently described tantrums to the Lord.
    Both lovely and convicting! ;0/

  4. Ummm, I’m with you and Leah today.

    My little Abbie learned to crawl out of her crib last week, so we had to move her into Jayden’s toddler bed and move him into a “big” bed. And yes, I’ve been throwing a bit of an adult tantrum myself:

    *I wasn’t planning on this yet!
    *I can’t afford to redo their rooms yet!
    *I don’t want to buy A sheet (not even a SET of sheets, just A sheet!) from Walmart to get me by until I can afford it!
    *I don’t want to be back in the newborn stage with an almost 2 year old! She’s discovered new-found freedom in the middle of the night, so my little one who’s been sleeping through the night since she was 6 weeks old is now up and wandering, and yes, throwing fits of her own, at UNgodly hours in the middle of the night!
    *WHY can’t my kids just get along like everyone else’s? I mean, seriously! Am I the only mom out there who feels the need to suit up in referee stripes every morning?
    *And now that Abbie’s up all night, my early morning walks are out because I’ve been up all night! And I was just getting into the routine again!
    *And the million other things I won’t even let myself go on about because I just DO NOT have the energy!

    So THANK YOU for informing me that I am not alone. Even though it sure feels like it…

    Lots-o-love!
    Mindy

  5. Erlinda

    just finished a full blown tantrum too… crying & on the floor… totally mad at God for the circumstances in my life & wanting a bit of control…. held it in all day (it’s my last girl’s birthday… 13… don’t want to say I have teenagers in the house… so anyone 13 & up is an adult!), but couldn’t hold it in any longer as I felt the unfairness of being a single parent, of having daughters who need their Daddy, of having so many birthday traditions that included both parents… & feeling lost with how to tell her birthday story (on the day you were born, I told Dad to take the library books back before we went to the hospital…. that really did happen when I had Melody) by myself without someone interrupting me he remembered it differently… yup, had me a good tantrum at God for not giving me a good reason that things have to be this way & that I have to just buck up & deal with it now…. okay, it’s turning into a pity party now… & I’ve had my cry & actually doing a bit better now… I’m clinging to the promise that there will be beauty for ashes… funny about temper tantrums, if the discipline is right & the parent is loving, there is sweetness in the restitution of relationship. God is good….

  6. Patty

    Yep!
    Just had one with myself in the Safeway parking lot! Then I came home and read this and almost laughed out loud!
    How you run your household as a parent is how I run my classroom when any one of them, or “them” collectively, tries to pitch their “fit” and get their way…..almost the same words as what you said in your article. Kids like parameters….and adults still need parameters, too, at times —- some more than others.
    Thank you for all of this, Beth!

  7. Aletha

    Hey Beth,

    This is too funny! I was sitting in choir rehearsal when I saw this post and as I was reading it our pastor’s son had a fallout tantrum on the pulpit! In addition, I am in the middle of my own tantrum right now, so this was great timing.

    lots of love, Aletha

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