Temper Tantrums?
February 2, 2008, 9:45 am
Filed under: Current Events | Tags: ,

FULL DISCLOSURE: I do not have children. Therefore, I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.

I was watching “The View” yesterday morning (sick pleasure. Yes I am embarrassed about it. BUT THEY’RE SO NUTTY I CAN’T HELP IT) and they were discussing corporal punishment in relationship to temper tantrums. Of course, they all say that even thinking about touching your child with anything but a soothing embrace will cause him to IMMEDIATELY DETERIORATE AS A HUMAN AND BECOME THE NEXT UNIBOMBER BECAUSE  YOU DIDN’T LOVE THEM ENOUGH.

However, they also agreed that one can never give into a temper tantrum because that teaches them one very loud lesson that they will never forget: temper tantrums = Mommy gives me what I want. This, I think everybody can agree, is a TERRIBLE road to go down. That’s a great way to produce the next unibomber.

So then, what do you do? They never came to a conclusion except don’t give in. This was an interesting addition to a conversastion ROOMMATE! and I had the night before, specifically about the use of water in our childhoods. (Water boarding? Ha! Ha!)

1. Roommate! was a breath-holder. As in, he would hold his breath until his parents gave him what he wanted. Of course, if he held it long enough, he would have probably passed out and start breathing again. Your lower brain does not allow you to kill your self by purposefully not breathing, it doesn’t work. However, what parent wants to risk having the child whose brain stem is on vacation, and then allow them to die because they held their breath over a piece of candy, all because the brain stem didn’t kick in? Not roommate’s parents. One day, they discovered ice cold water. When splashed in a breath-holder’s face, it shocks him so much that he starts breathing again. The threat that the child has is then lost, and you didn’t have to give in to him. They got so good at it that all they had to do was turn on the faucet and he’d start breathing.

He’s never tried this method of getting what he wants with me. This is good, because I am a believer in corporal punishment regarding wayward roommates. TAKE NOTE, ROOMMATE, THE NEXT TIME YOU LEAVE THE HEAT ON WHEN YOU GO OUT.

2. My brother chose to throw his first and last temper tantrum right after my father poured himself a nice glass of ice water on a very hot day. Papa! is generally a good “on his feet” thinker, and poured said glass of water on Brother. He immediately stopped the tantrum, picked himself up off the floor, and never threw a temper tantrum again.

No corporal punishment, per se, but a fairly good way to get the kid’s attention. That’s all you really need to.

I never threw temper tantrums. This is because I’m perfect.

No, actually, it’s because I was afraid of Mama!. She’s 6 feet tall. Wouldn’t YOU be afraid of her as a small child? That’s what I thought.

A few more anecdotes regarding children’s behavior:

3. My cousin’s children have opposite hair. The older one has very fine straight hair, and the younger has hair that does not experience the effects of gravity. It grows at a right angle to her head, in very tight unmanageable curls. Of course, it is this impressive growth of protein that causes people to say “oh my, what CURLY hair you have!” This actually means “Oh my GAWD, LOOK AT THAT HAIR! HOW DOES IT DO THAT?” Since children are children, the older one is filthy jealous of this. One day, she will grow up and realize that her hair is manageable and well-behaved, while her sister’s is attempting to mutiny from the rest of her body. However, at 5, all she sees is the attention that her little sister gets.  What does this mean? When left alone with little sister and a pair of scissors, chop chop chop go the wayward curls.

When my grandmother heard this, she whistled and said “Oooooooh, I would have spanked that child! Just one smack on the bottom, just to get  her attention!” Too late, though. Anything after that exact instant would have been completely lost on her: children are like dogs. They only get confused when they are punished after the fact.

4. Papa! once set the kitchen on fire when he was a small child. He was trying to open a can of varnish, and not realizing that varnish is highly flammable, he did this on the stove. All at once, the can opened, spilled, and he knocked the knob to turn on the flame. I think we all know what happened next.

Luckily, it was a small fire that my grandma (the 93 year old one, but she was much younger when this happened) was able to extinguish right away. However, one has to be impressed that his parents allowed him to survive to adulthood, right?

Note: I am not a proponent of actually hurting a child. There’s a whole separate name for that: it’s called child abuse, and that is already illegal, actually. Child abuse is abominable. Swatting a child’s behind so they pay attention when you say “Don’t EVER do that AGAIN” is one thing; hitting them hard, using other objects, leaving marks, damage, etc. is a different animal altogether. No lesson needs to be learned that way, under any situation. However, explaining to a jealous 5 year old why cutting off her sister’s hair was bad is a waste of breath. She’s not going to pay attention, because she’s a 5 year old, not a 30 year old. She won’t have learned anything from the encounter. She needs a direct consequence in order to grasp a concept. I know that’s not politically correct. Forgive me, but I find it hard to get my feathers ruffled over that.