This article is brought to you by Snarklets, Bracelets & Gifts Hand Stamped with Mantras for Real Life.
In 1989, the movie, Road House, hit theaters everywhere. If you’re unfamiliar with this cinematic masterpiece, it stars Patrick Swayze as the stoic cooler (head bouncer), Dalton, who has been hired to help clean up a rough bar in a small town in Missouri. He’s part warrior, part philosopher and one of the coolest characters in motion picture history.
Shortly after arriving at the bar, he addresses the other bouncers in a speech describing the three rules to successfully defusing any unpleasant encounter with unruly bar patrons.
As I watched this movie for roughly the 137th time, I couldn’t help but notice that ironically, these same rules for dealing with belligerent drunk people also seem to translate into dealing with toddler tantrums.
Let’s face it, the day you think you’ve mastered how to handle your toddler’s tantrum is the day you let your guard down. Anything can set a toddler off, whether it’s the wrong color sippy cup, or you’ve broken the rules to a game that they’ve made up that you didn’t even know that you were playing. One of my sons had a meltdown on vacation because a seagull wouldn’t give him a high five.
The key is realizing that tantrums can happen at any time for any reason. It’s important to remember that they are just a normal part of kids not knowing how to appropriately deal with their anger and frustration. If you keep that in mind, you’ll be better equipped to deal with each given situation.
One of the best ways that I have found to deal with my toddlers channeling their inner Tasmanian Devils is to remove them from the situation. We so often think of “Time Out” or “Going to Your Room” as an arbitrary punishment, but its real purpose is to remove your child from the situation that’s causing the negative reaction. Removing your kids from the triggering stimuli can be an opportunity to try and talk things over, reiterate rules and explain what a more positive reaction to the situation might be. A change of venue can help deescalate a situation.
This one is definitely the hardest. There is something about a toddler tantrum that makes us feel absolutely helpless. Here you are trying to keep your child safe while at the same time making sure that they don’t destroy everything that you own while they have decided that makes you public enemy number one. And when they hit in public, it can be absolutely mortifying. We suddenly feel like we’re under the microscope. The world is watching and ready to cast judgement on how we handle the situation.
For us, one of our biggest struggles is our kids fighting with other. They go out of their way to push each other’s buttons which usually ends in fisticuffs. It’s so incredibly frustrating to know that 90% of their problems could be solved if they would just give each other a little space. The problem is that they have no interest in it.
Keeping our cool during a toddler tantrum is tough, but it’s important. We are setting the example for how our children will react to difficult situations as they grow.
Dalton does, however, provide a caveat to this last rule.
There will be a time when being nice isn’t the option. There will be a time when a gentle voice and a rational explanation just won’t work. There will be a time when you’ll need to bring the proverbial hammer down. The key is exercising the proper judgement as to when to employ this particular course of action. If you do it too often, it will lose its effectiveness. It’s best used when all other avenues have been pursued. Discipline without control is just anger.
As is the case with most “rules” there are always exceptions. There will be times that all of these suggestions will work. There will be times that some of these suggestions will work, and there will be times that none of these suggestions will work. Parenting advice on the internet should be treated as one long buffet where you pick and choose whatever pieces of knowledge gained from the experiences of others seem most appealing to you.
There is, however, one key take away here. One major piece of advice that you should absolutely adhere to:
If you haven’t already, you should probably see Road House.
This article was brought to you by Snarklets, Bracelets & Gifts Hand Stamped with Mantras for Real Life.
Dale was born in Pittsburgh, PA but currently lives outside of Reading, PA. He graduated with a BA in photojournalism from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA in 2007. He has worked as a Marketing Brand Representative in the optical industry for five years. Dale lives in a quiet suburb with his beautiful wife and twin three-year-old boys. He enjoys Pittsburgh sports, comic books and bad action movies from the 80’s and 90’s. Dale also runs a comedic twitter account under the handle @TwinzerDad.