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October 28, 2006

Top Ten Things to Do While Your Kids Have Tantrums

Bigstockphoto_tantrum_kid_498142 After a very busy day, we finally had all three boys bathed and ready for bed. While preparing their nightly milk cups  I realized I did not have a blue top for the blue cup I give J. With three kids in the house, I assigned everyone colors as an attempt to make them feel special. Now it has backfired; one of my twin toddlers (J) has tantrums if I don't give him "his" color. And that is just what happened when I attempted to give J his milk cup that night.

I have experience with tantrums, my first son had his fair share but now he is older and things have quieted down.  Being strong willed is a quality that can lead to success in a child's future, but it does make it hard for their parents. Now one of my twin toddlers has them but the other does not. So all my mom guilt is gone and I truly believe it is wiring. My boys are delightful most of the time, so I have learned to deal with some screaming now and then.

But I did need to find a good way to survive tantrums the second time around. After reading the book "Children The Challenge, by Rudolf Dreikurs M.D.", I used their "take away attention concept" to deal with my son's tantrums. And since my son's tantrums do not include head banging or any other life threatening behaviors, I felt comfortable using it. He does not respond to distraction. So I developed my list of things to do while my son has his tantrums.This is my home version, I also have my top ten list to do when I am out. Getting things done keeps my sanity. But I did have to choose things that can be done with screaming in the background. Answering emails is dangerous because the tone I used in the email had a distinct annoyed quality that came out in my writing. I try to do these things in the same room but make sure my son realizes that I am NOT paying attention to him. And I need to stay calm. No problem, I am a mom of three boys.

TOP TEN THINGS I DO WHILE MY KIDS HAVE TANTRUMS (at home)

10. File my nails, for long tantrums I can even put polish on my nails.

9. Go through the mail. This is really fun when I find clothes catalogs that I can look through.

8. Clean the kitchen since it is the last thing I usually want to do.

7. Vacuuming is good because it drowns out the crying.

6. Go through my kids toys and make a donate bag with toys not in use. Sometimes this distracts him because he thinks I am throwing away his toys. Then he is happy to get his toys back.

5. Go through my kids art supplies and throw away markers without tops. Markers without tops really bothers me.

4. Do situps. I have my exercise ball and Xerdisc in the living room for easy access.

3. Re-organize and clean kitchen cabinets. Another job I dislike.

2. Make muffins, then at least I have fresh baked good when all the screaming ends.

1. And my favorite, take a long shower and use my favorite lavender soap and french shampoo.

That night I walked out of the kitchen and took a long shower. It took J 15 minutes of crying before he even noticed I left the room. All the other kids were in my older son's bedroom listening to Dad reading Harry Potter. He came into the bathroom and peeked at me. When he realized I saw him he started crying again and ran away. Then he came back and did the same thing. The next time he came in I said "peek-a-boo". He started to laugh. It felt so good to hear his laugh. I dried myself off, put my pajamas on and took J into his room to read a book. It was like the tantrum never happened. Crisis averted, until next time.

What do other Moms do to keep their sanity during their kids tantrums?

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