More Thoughts on Tantrums

January 29th, 2010 by Dionna | 26 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Gentle Discipline Ideas, Successes, and Suggestions, Gentle/Positive Discipline, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous, My Family, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity

I want to expand a little on Wednesday’s post about tantrums. I’d like to explain a little more why I don’t believe punishing a tantrum is effective.

What Is Our Ultimate Goal?

When addressing the question of “how to deal with tantrums,” I think it is important to ask ourselves what we are trying to accomplish. What is our ultimate goal?

If our goal is to teach children that the parent is in control, that children are expected to act and behave specific ways, that children must submit to the will of the parent at all costs, and that if they “misbehave” they will be punished, then I suppose discipline might get compliance.

I just don’t believe that bullying a child – through threat or force – has any other effect than making a child comply out of fear and reluctance. You aren’t making them want to do the right thing, you’re making them want to avoid the wrong thing. Same thing goes for taking away a favorite toy or activity as a consequence for having a tantrum. What does that teach other than the fact that you have control, and that some random bad thing might happen if he “misbehaves.” That teaches him nothing about the correct way to act, it just makes him resentful and fearful. Punitive measures don’t make kids want to “behave,” they just make them want to not get caught “misbehaving.” Make sense?

We do not want Kieran to fear us.

We do not want Kieran to view us as people who can wield loving or hurtful hands at our whim.

We are not trying to force compliance.

What Is the Benefit of Discipline During a Tantrum?

In a comment I made on Wednesday’s post, I gave this (fake) example: Kieran wants to paint, but because we’re going to leave in 10 minutes, I don’t have time to pull out the paints and then clean up the inevitable mess. Kieran screams and cries and throws a piece of bread that he’d been eating.

What good would “discipline” do in that moment? I mean discipline in the traditional sense: spanking, yelling, putting Kieran in timeout, etc.

Here’s what I would do:

I would get down on Kieran’s level and affirm what he is feeling:
“You are mad because you want to paint and we don’t have time.”
Usually, Kieran agrees with me.
“You wish we could paint, and you are upset that we have to leave in a few minutes.”
“I understand that you would like to paint now, but right now is not a good time for us. How about we paint later this evening when we get home?”

Usually, this calms him down – we’ve compromised. Now how to deal with the bread? I will ask him to pick it up. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. If he doesn’t, I might say “ok, mama will get it, but next time it would really help me if you either didn’t throw it, or you picked it up.”
(Alternatively, I might leave it, he’ll pick it up in a little bit. That’s not always possible, but sometimes it is and I can thank him later for taking care of the mess.)

In the aftermath of intense emotions, it’s not worth the power struggle to force Kieran to pick up what he’s messed up in the throes of a tantrum.
And even later, we might talk about how it isn’t always appropriate to throw things when we are angry – but we talk about it AFTER everyone has calmed down.

But if we don’t “punish” him for throwing the bread, won’t he just continue to throw things when angry? What if next time he throws something bigger and breaks a window?

I’ll answer that with another question: what does spanking a child teach him about “next time”? What does putting a child in his room teach him about how to handle his anger?

We want to teach Kieran that throwing things might be dangerous, and that while he might get angry and *feel like* throwing, there is a more appropriate way to show his anger. (On that note, there are actually times it is *ok* to throw things. We’ll work on that too.) I don’t care if he yells or screams – sometimes I yell and scream when I get mad too. I hope that I can teach Kieran that his anger is an ok thing to feel, but that he needs to channel it appropriately. That’s why we discuss things later. By discussing it, Kieran will learn that throwing things is not appropriate. That way, our windows will stay intact.

Parent-Control Does Not Magically Turn Into Self-Control

Here’s another example I gave in a comment on Wednesday’s post (this one really happened): We were at Toys R Us to get Kieran a new train for his train tracks. Toys R Us has a display train that kids can play with. Kieran played with the trains while I looked at what we were going to buy. When it was time to go, Kieran did not want to put the display trains back – he clung to them and said “NeeNee trains! Take home!” Well, that obviously wasn’t going to happen.

I could have ripped the trains from his hands, which would have resulted in a meltdown and made an unpleasant ending to what had been an enjoyable outing.

Instead, I talked about why the store needed the trains (for other kids to play with), I let him know that they’d be there the next time we visited, and I pointed out that we had a train of our own to buy and take home. Initially, he still didn’t want to give them up. So I planted myself next to the train table and let him play for a few more minutes. In 3-4 minutes, Kieran put one train on the table (he had two) and said “NeeNee put one back.” I said “Yep! Thank you, when you’re ready to put the other one down too, we’ll go.” He played for one more minute and finally put the other train down. He was ready.

I let him have some choice in how the trains were going to get put down. He needed time to process the fact that he really liked those trains, but we couldn’t take them home. I think a lot of tantrums/meltdowns happen because the adult forgets that toddlers don’t have our reasoning ability. They don’t process as quickly, they don’t understand why we ask the things we ask, etc. It is our job to teach them *why*, not punish them when they don’t conform to our will.

But wasn’t allowing him to play for those 5 minutes “giving in to him,” you might ask?

Well, if you want to be in control of your child at all times, then maybe. But why does it need to be about who is in control, who is giving in, who is getting whose way?

We don’t need to have control over Kieran’s every move.

A friend made a great point the other day – she said that when we try to control another person’s actions, we are actually giving that person control over us. All the person has to do is ignore our will, and that opens the door for us to get upset, angry, etc.

Parenting does not have to be a control game.

Kieran knows we are the parents, he listens to us all the time. If control were an issue, we have plenty of it. But what does it take away from us to take his feelings into consideration? Nothing.

What did that 5 minutes take away from my life? If I had grabbed the trains, he would have had a 5 minute meltdown that would have turned into an hour long pout fest. The entire tone of our evening would have been tinged by tears and frustration. What would that gain me? Nothing.

Letting him play for 5 minutes let him know that I respected his wishes too. He is a person. I value him.

Our Goal Is to Have a Relationship with Our Child Based on Respect, Love, and Trust

One last example (this also really happened):

Kieran took some water into the living room last week and set it on the floor. Tom said “Kieran, please put that up on the table so it doesn’t get knocked over.” Fast forward 30 minutes – the water was still on the floor and Kieran knocked it over.

What would happen in the house of parents who punish their child for messing up? Would the child hide the fact that he spilled? Would he hide himself? Would he shamefully avoid the fact that the glass had spilled, just like he had been warned? Would he be scared that he would be punished – sent to time out, spanked, have a toy taken away?

Do you know what happened in our house? Kieran walked in and cheerfully said “mama! NeeNee spill water!” I said, “thank you for telling me, let’s clean it up!”

And then we went in together, got a towel, and he helped by stepping on the towel. And then we got more water and I helped him put it on the table.

No anger.

No harsh words.

No discipline.

We worked together, because we all mess up.

Tom and I choose to parent in the way we would want to be treated. I don’t want Tom to express his displeasure with me by striking me or sending me away from him, I want to have a conversation with him and come to a mutual understanding. Why should we treat our child as if he deserves less?


Do you feel that there is ever a time to punish tantrums?

What do you think punishment teaches children?

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26 Responses to:
"More Thoughts on Tantrums"

  1. Anne

    Hi, found you through SITS. A response to your last example: I am just curious how not enforcing general rules of obedience and respect in your household is going to help your cause. Sure, “we all mess up”, but how is it a good thing that your son blatantly ignored a request from his father, and this fact was not addressed? You say you are raising him in a manner in which YOU would like to be treated… so you like to be ignored when you make a request to a respected family member? Forget issues of control or discipline here, that is not what I am talking about. I am talking about teaching mutual respect. If your husband left a glass of water sitting on the floor, and you asked him to pick it up, would you be okay with it if he completely ignored your request until the water spilled? Would he be okay with it if you ignored a request of his?

    If your son can’t even obey a simple request from his parents, who he allegedly has this very trusting and respectful relationship with, how is he going to know to respect adult guests who come to your home, other members of your extended family, or other children he plays with? I don’t see how this method of teaching is going to create a respectful person when he is a few years older. What about in a few years when he goes to play at a friend’s home and has no respect for the adult in charge there? No, you don’t have to be harsh or discipline, but you are still his parents, and there still need to be some boundaries. Again, I am not speaking of “control” here, or “discipline”, I am addressing a need for him to respect others.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Hi Anne, thank you for commenting!
      You’re right – I didn’t say anything about the fact that he didn’t listen to Tom’s request. Yes, we would talk about that too for sure. But I still believe that talking about something is much more effective than punishing him for not obeying. He also learned why we don’t leave water down – it spilled! He helped clean it up. Why do I need to drive the point home more (other than having a conversation about it) by spanking him or sending him to his room? It’s not like he’s going to go sit in his room (or the corner, or wherever) and ruminate on the proper places to set glasses. No, he’ll go sit in his room and think how mean I am for sending him there. Or worse – what if I spanked – is every blow of my hand on him going to reinforce where a glass should go? Hardly.
      He will learn the etiquette of living by . . . living! And of course I want to teach him to respect other people’s things – that will happen as I model for him how to act when we are in other places. We are teaching him how to listen and respect others – the fact that we also listen to him and respect him should not detract from those goals!

      • Rachel

        I am so glad that you touched on “modeling” as a way to teach children. Children learn by example. We model respect in many different ways and there are always many opportunities that life presents us parents with to use to teach our children these life lessons. Lead by example and the children will follow. One also must have a basic understanding of what a child (let’s say toddler age)is actually capable of…a two year old is operating on impulse, they may be capable of only 20% impulse control at this age. Besides, these are children, we cannot expect them to “behave” as if they were adults.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Thanks Rachel! And welcome – it sounds like you will have great things to add to our conversations :)

    • Heather   xakana

      “Obey”… what a word. This is a word that an animal or slave is subject to, not friends or family. What happens to you if you don’t obey your husband? Does he punish you? Or does he simply ask you again or let you deal with the consequences of not doing as he asked? Where is any respect in the word “obey”? And if it IS a request, then the answer “not right now,” is acceptable. Tom asked respectfully and Kieran exercised his right to say no. He discovered the consequence and helped to right it.

      BTW, I know many kids raised this way and kids raised where they’d have been punished for saying no. Guess who’s more respectful as older children/teenagers? The kids who were raised like Kieran. In the short term, they are normal toddlers/preschoolers–testing limits, questioning everything in various ways and it can seem to someone who’s used to children being punished for these behaviors, that they’re “out of control”, but in just a few years, they continue to model the good behavior and grow out of the mini-teendom that is the toddler/preschool years.

      The kids who were punished start hiding their misdoings, lying to avoid trouble and waiting until the adults are out of the room to do whatever it was they wanted to do, but knew they’d be punished for–largely because they didn’t learn real consequences to their actions, but also because they still feel out of control in regards to their own lives, while children allowed to explore and make mistakes and say “no” or “not right now” have been allowed to find things about their lives that are theirs to control and don’t need to hide those actions and also display more confidence and security.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        “The kids who were punished start hiding their misdoings, lying to avoid trouble and waiting until the adults are out of the room to do whatever it was they wanted to do, but knew they’d be punished for–largely because they didn’t learn real consequences to their actions, but also because they still feel out of control in regards to their own lives, while children allowed to explore and make mistakes and say “no” or “not right now” have been allowed to find things about their lives that are theirs to control and don’t need to hide those actions and also display more confidence and security.”

        That is really insightful, Heather – and is what I tried to express (not quite as eloquently) to my mom yesterday when we were talking about this!

      • Anne

        First of all, I never said ANYTHING about “punishment” or “discipline” in my first comment, in fact I made note that my first comment had nothing to do with discipline, but respect. Second of all, if my husband asks me to do something, YES, I “obey” his request, because I respect him. That does not make me a slave to him, it means we have a mutual respect for one another, and I am not some kind of liberal feminist who insists on thinking that way about it. Nor is a child a “slave” to their parent by FOLLOWING (since I can’t use the word “obey” in this context…) a simple request, such as putting a glass of water on the table so that it does not spill.

        The fact that the word “obey” has been taken so far out of context and turned into “slavery” in this subject is why I will never participate in AP-style parenting. I was raised in a household where parents were still authority figures, and there were boundaries as far as how far a child could go before crossing the line. If I were you, I’d think about what slavery really means before turning “obedience” into “slavery”. There is a HUGE difference.

    • CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

      I don’t feel my 2y.o. “left the water on the ground in an effort to point out that he wasn’t respecting my request any longer”…

      He’s TWO.

      He can’t comprehend the potential “consequences” of a glass of water on the carpet being easily-tipped. Let me point out, though he “doesn’t listen to papa” ALL the time… “don’t lay on kitty…” “don’t throw blocks…” etc. etc.

      He’s heard those requests before, and he knows he shouldn’t do those things because there are potentially negative endings (kitty bites, or he hits someone with a block)… but… He’s TWO. He won’t be doing these same things when he’s 5. or 13. or 22. The kid’s still learning!

      As far as your comment “If your son can’t even obey a simple request from his parents, etc…”
      1. he does fulfill more than his fair share of requests, and he often offers to help us when we don’t expect it.

      2. there are lots of “simple” things I wish my son could handle right now, for example, he doesn’t like me to change his poopy diapers – “Mama do that!” – just because he makes a choice (glass of water) or expresses his view (I want MAMA to change my diaper) it doesn’t mean he is being disrespectful – you’re implying that because he doesn’t hop-to when I ask him to do something it means he’ll be “disrespectful” later in life.

      I think our method will teach him right and wrong w/o any negative actions on our part causing him to fear us or feel like he has to walk a fine line all the time. He has to be allowed room to make mistakes and learn some stuff on his own.

  2. CodeNamePapa   CodeNamePapa

    Anne – you make a good point in your 2nd comment, the word “obey” does have a negative connotation to it and it really shouldn’t…

    I try to obey traffic law, but I’m not a slave to them, etc.

    I see what you’re saying, but there are others who do use the word obey/obedience when they expect/demand their kids to obey (and not just obey but “obey without dissent”)

    I think what we’re trying to show is that despite the fact we don’t always have our requests fulfilled right away we have to manage our reactions to those moments.

    I’ve gotten upset before when DS demands mama change his poopy diapers… in the long run this:
    – only gets me upset
    – only gets him upset
    – never gets the diaper changed.

    So, I have to decide what battles to fight, and when dealing w/ a 2yo you have to be selective!

  3. Children learn to speak, walk, and do everything else by watching what those around them do. If parents treat their children in a respectful manner, they are modeling respect and their children are learning to be respectful. Respect is a two way street. I respect people for different reasons. I may respect people in my profession for their research or professional manner. I may respect other people for the kindness and caring they show. And, while I may show politeness to older people, just as I attempt to be polite in general, a person does not have my respect merely because they are older than I am.

    As Dionna mentioned about her parenting philosophy, my husband and I also have a desire for our children to do the right thing, not because they fear punishment or because of some other extrinsic reason, but because of their beliefs and intrinsic reasons.

    I often heard similar comments when my oldest was a toddler – “well, what about when he is older?” I can now tell you from experience that every time we are out, some stranger comments on the politeness and respectful manners which my children exhibit.

  4. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    Weird – why can’t I “reply” to Anne’s comment in this thread? I wonder if nesting comments only go so many in? Anyway . . .

    I agree with you that we can’t turn “obey” into slavery so easily. But I’d hate to think that one person’s comment on a blog post would turn you off of an entire parenting style though – that’s just kind of silly.

    But back to the discussion – sometimes I get ignored by adults. I asked my husband to get the diapers from the dryer before he left for work this week. He didn’t do it. Do I assume that he is “disobeying” or “disrespecting” me? No, he either forgot, ran out of time, or decided to do it later. Like Tom said in his 2nd comment – what good does it do me to get upset about it? I would rather choose to say to him later – “hey goofball, you forgot the diapers! Would you get them now or will you watch Kieran while I get them?”

    Think about all of the things kids learn to do without us pushing or punishing them – talk, read, play music, play sports, dance, laugh, love, make friends, sit in classrooms, hug their grandparents, give gifts, feed their pets, etc., etc.
    With every life lesson, does it have to be about consequences? No! Kids just learn! We model for them. Kids aren’t dumb.

    And if we got confused about whether you were talking about discipline, it’s because that’s what the topic of this post was about – disciplining a tantrum. My apologies if I was unclear about the direction you were taking with your comment.

  5. Monty

    Ok, here we go. I was raised by Military parents and I am Military. Let me start by saying that I feel I was raised very respectful and I was never spanked and I don’t think DAD or MOM ever really yelled at me. I was taught to say Yes ma’am, no ma’am, Yes sir and no sir to my elders. I will see someone with a veteran hat on and go shake their hand and thank them and I taught this to my kids and they do this as well (I love the look and care on the veterans face)
    Did I do wrong, that is an understatement, and did I turn out good? I sure hope so. I still do things wrong today and I am 43 years old.
    I remember a type of tantrum as a kid, I didn’t throw anything, and I didn’t even yell or scream, I just sat there.
    Story: I think I was eight years old, mom and dad said that we are going to go to the movies tonight, here comes dinner and mom was a good cook until the brussel sprouts! As we sat and ate 3 sprouts were put on my plate, as I ate my food those three sprouts stayed right where they put. Mom said “we will not go to the movies if you don’t eat your veggies”
    I have spanked and timeout as a tool of discipline with my kids 17 (graduated with honors this Jan) and a 15 a little more rambunctious than the other but has changed in a way(turning out grate in school as well). Now don’t get me wrong, it was not out of hate or was it hard, it was a swat on the butt or a smack on the hand, and it was after many times of saying the same thing over and over. I don’t think that the disciplining of children (swat, smack or timeouts) is harmful as long as it is not in hate or aggressive. I am by no means trying to make my kids or my grandson submit to my needs with discipline.
    I can’t tell you that if Mom or Dad would have disciplined me in this way I would be different than I turned out, a question that will never be answered.
    The answer to the story, we sat there for hours while I had a brussel sprout in my mouth. Who won? Neither of us did, we didn’t go to the movies as I didn’t eat a brussel sprout and still don’t eat brussel sprouts today, eeeeewwwwwwww.
    Thank you.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m not saying that I think everyone who is spanked is going to turn out to be a broken person. I think human beings are incredibly resilient – horrible things happen to kids all the time and they turn out to be functioning adults. The fact that we ultimately reach adulthood intact doesn’t justify the hurtful things we endured as children.

      I’m also not saying that I think parents who spank are horrible people. There are many very good parents who lash out in a moment of weakness. There are other many good people who are simply parenting the only way they know how.

      What I hope is that posts like this one give parents with different parenting styles something to think about. There are alternatives to hitting children.

      The bottom line for me remains this: if you hit an adult the same way parents hit their children, you would be subject to jail, court marshal, fines, and/or a civil lawsuit. What in the world is the justification for making it ok to do to a child? There is none.

  6. Mom

    As I said to you yesterday, when we were talking about this, I only wish that I had been as well informed, and dedicated as you are when I was raising you and your sisters!! BUT…I must say that even though I did things differently than you and Tom are, and even though I am the first to admit that I wish I had done a lot of things differently with you and your sisters…I am really really PROUD of the way all three of you have turned out!!! So either I am extremely lucky or you three are extremely resilent and brilliant!!!! I think it is the latter choice!!!

  7. Mandy

    I will never believe that hitting another person in an attempt to control them is acceptable.

  8. Rebecca

    I guess how broadly you define the term discipline/punishment. We treat tantrums differently, Tater can throw as many of them as she would like. I have been known to step over them, but mostly, she can scream and throw fits and whatever (wait till he learns to communicate during a tantrum, “You are NOT my best friend!” is a big one around here), but those kinds of fits are not okay anywhere but at home. We do not tolerate it at restaurants, at gymnastics, at school, etc. Those earn her an immediate trip home. Last night, we had planned to go out and grab something to eat after gymnastics, she had her heart set on McDonalds (not my favorite, but whatever)…when we got in the car, I asked her to hurry and get in because it was cold, and mommy was freezing. She promptly did everything she could to make that process take as long as possible. Including crawling to each seat in the car and buckling the seat belts. After asking her to hurry up numerous times, she got in her seat, and as I leaned over to buckle her in she hit me, right in the face. She was still angry from being asked to hurry up repeatedly.

    After that, I told her that when we hit people, they don’t want to do fun things with us, and we would go home and eat left overs and then it was time for bed. Oh, the screaming that ensued from wanting to go to McDonalds. Not that she was going to get to go at that point. Plain and simple. She tossed a doozy of a tantrum in the car starting at the seat belt buckling and ending with her hitting me. Game over.

    We don’t throw fits at the dinner table, either. If she wants to throw a fit during dinner, she can go to her room and do it, and rejoin us when she is ready to sit with us at the table and enjoy dinner and talk. Its not going to happen. She is not going to ruin everyone else’s dinner with her caterwauling. We have about 1 hour a day when all three of us are awake and together, sooo, that period of time is for talking about our day, or doing other things together pleasantly. The same rule applies to everyone else in the house. If either George or I needs to throw a fit (which happens sometimes) we have to remove ourselves from the area where the family is spending time together and chatting etc.

    The same with in a restaurant. We have gone to the car to throw fits on numerous occasions, starting when she was an infant. She can feel those feelings, and that is fine, but she can express them at a time and place that is appropriate, if she needs to throw it right now (either during dinner at home or out somewhere, then she can move it to a place that is appropriate … either the car or somewhere else).

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I honestly don’t know what I’d do in each of those situations, because they’ve never come up yet. I do see the value in teaching kids that there is a time and a place to have a screaming, flailing, kicking fit, b/c it’s not safe for yourself or others to do it everywhere. And I also can see the value in asking kids to remove themselves from a dinner table (or other social situation) to tantrum, because everyone in the family has needs that should be considered – not just the one having problems at that second. At this point in his development, I don’t even think Kieran would remove himself from a room, but I would feel comfortable taking him and sitting with him elsewhere.

      I have asked Kieran to go into another room to scream because he is hurting my ears – but that’s not in the middle of a tantrum. That’s just because I’m sensitive to really high noise levels. ;)

  9. Monty

    I will not ever condone child abuse.

  10. kaila

    I like what you had to say about how your household handles extreme emotions. The water story made me think; Kieran was expressing his right to say no, not to pick up the water and place it on the table. If you had taken away his right to say no, you would have been disrespecting his choice to say no. So instead you respected him, his choice to leave it and everyone showed respect for the family and home when they cleaned it.

    The train story. I can relate very much. Sometimes if i just take a breathe, and realize my child is more important than my schedule, those moments of crying and upset can be avoided all together. Taking the time to listen and respect my child really does help out in the end.

    If my best friend was visiting for lunch, and she starting getting upset and crying and obviously in pain, I would never ask her to leave the situation!! “Sorry bf, i can’t handle your emotions, get out!” no. I would embrace her, try to find out what is really wrong, the true reason for these strong emotions. Sending my friend away to be lonely and not heard would not solve the problem, even if the problem can’t be solved, at least listen, sometimes listening alone can help. Same as for a child, toddler, spouse, friend. Who wants to be yelled at or alone when they are expressing strong emotions?

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thank you Kaila!
      And I agree – my child is *always* more important than my schedule. It’s also a learning process for me – how long will I really need to run errands today? It’s important for adults to remember to build time in for kids, b/c they just don’t can’t move as fast as we do.

  11. Your example at the store with the trains works greats, until you add in a screaming infant that needs to be fed, changed, etc. Who should be ask to wait then? We use the analogy of being under an umbrella. When mom and dad stay under God’s umbrella(i.e. respect and obey) we are safe. When our kids stay under our umbrella(i.e. respect and obey) they are safe. If we give our children the green light to do whatever they want, words lose their meaning. When I stay no, I mean no, when I stay stop, I mean stop, when I ask them to do something, I expect them to do it. They may not want to do it right now and I respect how they feel, but it still needs to be done when I ask. How would I feel if my child git hit by a car because they were exercising their so called “right” to not listen(obey) to me when I said stop? Do I pick and chose my battles, yes I do, but I still have final say.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Megan.

      I’m not sure if I included it in this post or the other, but of course there is a time and place for kids to listen when safety is involved. It’s a leap to think that because we don’t believe in spanking (or otherwise “disciplining” a tantrum) that we let Kieran run amok in the street. Regardless, by respecting Kieran’s right to be his own person, he listens to us of his own free will a vast majority of the time.

      Respecting Kieran as a person doesn’t mean that our needs have become subservient to his. He is learning that the world is full of situations where we need to give, where we need to cooperate, where we need to listen. He may not always be happy about that – but my job isn’t to make sure he’s happy 100% of the time. We will just discuss it later after the incident is over.

      But again, what good does it do me to “punish” a tantrum at that juncture? If I had to remove him from a situation against his will, I would do it gently and with respect. I would validate his feelings – because his feelings are valid. Just because I am the parent and have his best interest in mind does not mean that he should not be heard.

  12. I didn’t for a moment think that you would just let him run in the streets, but I have four kids, ages 7 to 15 months and when I have all of them by myself, they must listen because that is the only way I can keep them all safe.I was thinking more along the lines when we are leaving the grocery store and they want to race through the parking lot to our car. I think that this is very hard to discuss via comments, because it is such a deep subject, especially when you start to involve more than one child. I don’t ever ignore their feelings, but if they want to through a tantrum I simple say “Please feel free to continue that behavior in your room and when you are done and would like to talk about it, come find me” that said, they are not to slam doors, or throw things, those are not acceptable behavior even if they are mad, because that behavior could result in someone else getting hurt. That behavior will have a negative consequence attached to it. If my older boys slam the door because they are mad, they have to quietly and respectfully open and shut the door twenty times. My daughter, who is three, she has to do it five times, she knows we don’t slam doors just as much a the big kids do. If they want to stomp around and pout, they have to go out into the driveway and stomp as hard as they can for 30 seconds. We need to be able to graciously accept the word “no” and respect those who say it, whether we are five or fifty. I don’t think that expectation in any way ignores the way they feel. We don’t “punish” our kids, we use discipline. If we do spank, it isn’t out of anger(that is being violent and punishing them), we talk about right and wrong and they fully understand what they did wrong, a better choice they could have made, they receive their discipline with an open heart(which may or may not include being spanked), we hug and go about our day.
    I can honestly say that when I only had one I let him stay and play, but when number two came along that totally backfired and for quite awhile it was no fun to do anything because he thought he could do whatever he wanted to do and number two learn that he could do the same thing also. They never wanted to leave no matter how long they got to stay and play. It was a nightmare and it got to the point that we couldn’t go anywhere without some sort of major meltdown until we crackdown about listening, being respectful, and obeying and now I bring all four of them anywhere because I have that assurance that when it counts the most my kids will listen to me. I don’t have the same expectations for my 15 month old as my 7 year old. I don’t expect them to act like adults when they are not, but I do expect them to follow our safety rules and be obedient. As for the water in the living room, if my kids could clean it up all by themselves, that would be a different story, I don’t feel that their rights should infringe on my own. I clean up enough messes throughout the day, I don’t need to clean up an extra one when it could have been avoided by simple complying with the simple request to put it on the table. I don’t make rules to be a big meany or stick in the mud, rules are there to help everyone be happy and safe.
    On a different note, I loved your post about what a boob taste like.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      It would definitely be more difficult once you have more kids running around. And of course I can’t say how our parenting will change once (if? when?) we have a second child, but it is my desire that we continue on the road we are traveling. I do have a friend who has 3 kids (#4 on the way) who is my role model for respectful/consensual parenting, so I know that lovely children (who listen and act “appropriately” according to societal norms) can be raised gently and respectfully.

      I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the spanking. I remember being spanked as a child (well, mostly I remember my sisters getting spanked, I didn’t get spanked nearly as much). My parents didn’t beat or “abuse” us (again, according to societal norms), but we did get spanked, and I can guarantee you that we did not accept being hit with an open heart. In my opinion, adults might *hope* kids accept physical punishment with an open heart, but that’s a projection of adult desires.

  13. Rachel

    OK so I know I’m a bit late to the game here, I came from a more recent entry that referenced this one from some time ago but I could not help but comment :)

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