When he doesn’t get his way on anything, he freaks out into a full-on nuclear explosion. He has been this way since the moment of his birth, when he was pulled from the womb and began the lowest, loudest screech the doctor had ever heard. He scared me, actually.
Now, he is a walking, talking 16-month-old who believes (as does most of us) that he is the boss of the world. And if anyone dare cross him on that fact, he’ll scream a scream that will wake the neighbors.
How do I keep him from breaking the sound barrier, waking my sleeping husband, or interrupting my call with the utility company’s customer service line (the one that I waited 20 minutes to be able to talk to)? I try to keep it from happening, at all. Here is what works:
1. Distraction. When I see my little guy start to get impatient, I quickly redirect him with a happy fun voice and a new opportunity for excitement. (“See the birdie in the tree outside? Can you say “chirp, chirp?”, as I flap my imaginary wings.)
2. Calling in reinforcements. Sometimes, he just doesn’t want to hear “no”. Other times, he doesn’t want to hear “no” from me. That’s when I bring in another member of the family to let him down gently. After he hears his least-favorite word, he can come to Mommy where I comfort him into a better mood. (Some families call this “good cop, bad cop.”)
3. Needs assessment. Usually, the reason for my son’s massive panic isn’t what you think it is. Is he really upset that he can’t stack the bigger block on top of the much smaller one? Possibly. Or he could have a nasty diaper, need a nap, or is thirsty. Address the needs you can influence before they cause him to have a problem with everything the world sends his way.
4. Snuggles and conversation. Since my son is still nursing, there is one sure-fire way to get him to chill out. Do I use my persuasive mothering powers at every chance? I actually use this technique as a last resort. Since “being with mommy” can calm him instantly, however, I use the opportunity to calmly explain what is going on while he eats. Kids at this age are often mistaken for being too young to understand things, but in, fact, they catch on pretty quickly. Use your hugs, kisses, and warm lap to put your child in a calm mood before you talk to them about their behavior. It’s amazing what they can comprehend at this age!
Does your little guy or gal get bent out of shape easily? How do you maintain peace when they lose it?