The toddler has been doing this new thing. We say, “No,” and he throws himself onto the floor. While laying on his stomach, he screams and beats his hands against the floor in opposition. Then, the tantrum reaches a fever pitch because he’s beating his hands against an oak hardwood floor. There are no winners in this fight.
Every time, I’m reminded of Edward Norton’s character in “Fight Club” asking for his severance package. Norton delivers a one person melee against himself while his cornflower blue tie wearing boss looks on, terrified. Norton’s character gets his pay plus an amateur boxing club finds a sponsor. I’m very proud of my Terrific Toddler during his own one person heated battles. His epic tantrum throwing performance is all me.
I don’t know if its because he is a boy, or if its an unavoidable truth, my son is the spitting image of his Da-da. A few people who know only me will politely say my son looks like me but, they’re only being polite. He has my eyes. Lately, I’m discovering behind his looks is a lot of me.
Those are my fits. That’s my dramatics. Those are my genes screaming through loud and clear. Here’s me, ‘reaping what I sow,’ and we don’t do anything half-assed in this household. I am Jack’s loud screaming raging fit. I am Jack’s tantrum.
I love hard. I fight hard.
But there are rules, ya know?
We all need rules. Even the so-called amateur boxing club has rules.
I know. I know. I have broken the first two rules of Fight Club.
You know who needs rules? Toddlers and their tantrums. So, here they are:
Mommy’s Fight Club Rules for Toddler Tantrums:
1. Use Your Words.
2. USE YOUR WORDS. I realize part of a tantrum is because a Toddler doesn’t have the adequate vocabulary to express emotions. But try. I will use my words back, and who knows… we might reach an understanding or some shit. More than likely, my words will still be “no.” By using our words, we at least know where the other person stands. For instance, let’s say the Toddler wants to raid the fridge. The answer is always, “No, you cannot raid the fridge and spray whip cream everywhere because you don’t clean up the mess.” Look, a conversation happened. Do you know why, Toddler? Because you used your words. To my son, you can use the word “beach” and win every time. I love the beach.
3. If Mommy goes limp, taps out, or yells ‘STOP’ the fight is over. This will allow a tantrum to only last so long. Mommy will bow out. Mommy will limp out of the room and not give the Toddler the attention he wants. Mommy means “STOP” when she says “STOP.”
4. Both parents are on the same side. Two adults to a team. Do not undermine Mommy’s authority by giving into the demand. If Mommy said, “No ice cream,” Mommy doesn’t need Daddy swooping in to be the ‘cool’ parent while she assumes the asshole role. Adults remain on the same team. Grandparents are excluded from this rule because they are older and have raised their children. Thereby, they get to do what they want at any point in time and send the kids back to the parents. After a grandparent visit is a good time to remain a team. Don’t give in. Don’t throw your husband or wife under the tantrum bus. Remain a unified front.
5. Only one tantrum from one child at a time. If you have more than one child, this rule needs to hang somewhere in your dwelling. Sanity can only deal with one child screaming hysterically and throwing his/her self onto the floor. If more than one child starts a tantrum throwing fit, I suggest that is a good time to go limp and bow out of the room. Basically, I am saying ‘get the hell out of there.’ Bathrooms and closets are good places to hide. Here, you can eat cookies in peace. Read a magazine. Bow out, go limp and hide if you have several kids beating their fists against the floor.
6. Keep pants and diapers on. No parent wants to watch their child wallow in their own pee. 9 out of 10 times when a diaper comes off, a toddler will pee on the floor. They’re in a vulnerable emotional state during tantrum mode, they will throw themselves into pee pee land. Nobody wants that mess. Keep the pants on.
7. Lay in the floor screaming as long as you like. Mommy has already limped out of the room 20 minutes ago. If my toddler wants to lay there screaming, whatever… not my business. He’s entertaining himself and getting that energy out.
8. If it is their first play date or first time at daycare, they’re gonna bite. It’s a given. They bite. They all bite. My terrific little boy tries to bite my legs in anger fits. We have like a gazillion forms we’ve signed from daycare for biting. They can’t express emotions, they bite. Eventually a newer kid will come to town, and bite them back.