She’s sweet, she’s sour. This is the full tantrum (video at bottom of blog). She’s gotten faster at getting back on track. She’s even had a few that were much faster than this one. And she has DEFINITELY had longer tantrums.
Toddler wants chocolate milk: let’s break it down. Every tantrum, every fight at our house can be divided into these same parts–unacceptable behavior, gentle chance, a firm and predictable punishment, an apology, forgiveness, makeup.
That’s it. It can be over that easily. You know…in theory.
Part one–Unacceptable Behavior I didn’t get it all on video. She just woke from a nap and demanded chocolate milk in the her whiniest voice ever. No. Not a chance that I will reward that.
Part two–Gentle Chance I explain how she’s acting and give her a chance to change her mind quickly. Sometimes it’s over RIGHT then, and we skip part three. Other times, part three is the longest step…her choice.
Part three–Clear Punishment (or Consequences) If she chooses not to change her behavior, she will be punished–go sit on the couch. She tested me because I was filming, and she will usually test me if someone else is here as her audience…or if we are in public.
Ideally, and theoretically, she gets ONE chance to obey. And if her mouth or body language “tell me no,” then I will go pick her up and put her on the couch. That’s “yes.”
(But to be honest, I don’t always get up when she doesn’t obey the first time…as you see in the video. But if I’m making eye contact and I’ve told her TWICE, and she disobeys a second time…I will get up. Trust me.
I have had to place her on the couch many times. I’ve had to catch her trying to run off as many as 12…possibly 20 times in a row, and I sit her back down, and back down, and back down…until she stays.
Part four–An Apology She knows when she can get up. All she has to do is say, “I’m sorry.” This particular time, she chose to say it quickly. Cool. Fine by me.
I have done things like set a timer for 5 minutes and ignore her until it goes off, and then give her the opportunity to apologize or sit longer.
Clara is 2 years and 9 months now. She doesn’t usually need a full 5 minutes to change her behavior. Sometimes she chooses to take that long, but not often anymore.
I learned a long time ago with toddlers–give them a choice, and make sure YOU are fine with either option. Example–Get yourself dressed in the next 5 minutes…or wear your pajamas to the store. It won’t embarrass me.
Apologize…or sit there. Either way, I’m fine.
Part five–Forgiveness I have a long list of personal habits that I hope my daughters don’t remember or learn. If they only remember one thing about growing up with me, I hope they remember my capacity to forgive.
For practice with my toddlers and children, this is an unskippable step. And under my rule, unforgiveness will often get a punishment.
Definitely at least a lecture–unforgiveness is your biggest character flaw, _______ (insert name). You need to learn not to do that, especially to your sisters.
Part five–Makeup Remember it enough to learn from it, forget it enough to move on. Making up usually looks like a hug at my house.
Forgiveness can be that quick with adults, too, but usually isn’t.
As adults, we often get hurt by grudges, judgment, moral superiority, scoffs, repeated mistakes, jabs, criticism, gossip. But to be hurt, we have to consent to allow any of those reactions to hurt us, which has been an incredibly liberating realization for me. We don’t have to be hurt.
Probably why I get along better with kids, and probably always will. I prefer their simplicity.