I sat there in the tiny doctor’s office waiting patiently for the pediatrician to finish telling me about the shots fussy butts would be getting and going over her suggestions for safety and nutrition. But what I really wanted to know was what the heck I’m supposed to do about the temper tantrums that currently rule the roost (that’s the diva on the right, probably ticked off because I wouldn’t let her eat a sticker or put her sock in my coffee).
The moment I’ve been awaiting arrives. “Do you have any questions?” she asked, knowing I would by the long list I clutched in my hands. I can’t imagine any mom of a toddler (at least the first time moms) arriving at the pediatrician’s office without a long list of “whys” and “what the hell is up with thats.” When I told her how the diva acts when told no or I take away something she can’t have, she laughed. She LAUGHED. Now, if you’re reading this, I assume you have a child and I assume you have dealt with the same screaming matches in your house. There’s nothing funny about it. But instead of clocking her, I just waited for her to stop cackling.
She goes on to explain that the best thing to do is just ignore her. She said that the diva will realize that she’s not getting the reaction she wants and stop. Now that’s some good news, right there. I can ignore her! I don’t have to tell her no or do a time out or even get off the couch? Just ignore her?! That’s the best parenting advice I’ve gotten yet. Write it down, people!
At the next sign of a temper tantrum, I enact her advice. Ha! Yeah, right. Ignoring her only exacerbates her anger. She goes from tepid to boiling over in two seconds flat. If I actually manage to dodge the tiny fingers flying at my face, she’ll stop only long enough to find something to throw, anything she thinks I deem valuable (aka things she’s not allowed to touch). Pens, cups, my phone, the remote… If I walk away, the beast follows me like a lion stalking its prey.
While I hope the doctor’s advice will work … eventually, right now ignoring her is very hard. No. Scratch that. It’s the most frustrating and patience-testing thing you will ever have to endure (I hope). You want to train soldiers and judges and police, you know the people who need to remain calm in the face of adversity? Stick them in a room with a bunch of 16-month-olds. Sometimes you want to scream “shut up!” but you don’t. You wait. Willing yourself to block out the noise, go to your happy place or remember how to count to 10 amid the storm. And when it finally ends, you pray your ears aren’t bleeding and social services doesn’t end up on your doorstep.