Temper Tantrum, or Justifiable Meltdown?

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by MorrisonCorner, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    How do you tell the difference between a Temper Tantrum and "truly upset?" I think "no you can't have the cookies" precipitating screaming is a tantrum... but how do you parse Really Upset? And what do you do when your child is Really Upset over something which to them is very important, but not something you're willing to give in on?
     
  2. turtlehead

    turtlehead Well-Known Member

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    In my house, a temper tantrum (screaming, hitting, flopping around on the floor) was always ignored.

    Truly upset may include lots of crying, but not the out of control behavior that accompanies a tantrum.

    If it's really important to them, but you're not willing to give in, then don't give in. Try to come up with an alternative that both of you are happy with.
     

  3. omnicat

    omnicat Well-Known Member

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    Truly upset may include lots of crying, but not the out of control behavior that accompanies a tantrum.

    That's it in a nutshell in my opinion. If they're truely upset, they're crying, but they'll accept comfort. A tantrum is designed to manipluate. They're different.
     
  4. momlaffsalot

    momlaffsalot Well-Known Member

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    If they are really upset but it's something I won't change my stance on, then I tell them I understand that they are upset but that ultimately they have to follow my judgement. They know they aren't expected to agree with everything I do, they just have to respect it. I try to be fair and see things from their point of view as much as I can.
    Temper tantrum are not tolerated and whoever has one will have it from their room and for only a short time. They are not allowed (none of us are) to inflict their bad mood on everyone else.
     
  5. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    In my house, if you have a reaction that you cannot control you are invited to go have that reaction somewhere else.

    It happens to us all sometimes - even grownups get too much on their plate and need a good hard cry or a chance to scream into a pillow. What is unacceptable is inflicting that behaviour on others (particularly if you think it'll get you something). So, I always sent my son to his room to have his fit if he needed to - or if we were out in public, he had to go to the car to do it ... but he had to learn to control himself in the presence of others.

    Hey, if you need to scream, there's 6 acres of screaming room outdoors ... just don't scare the sheep! :D
     
  6. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    It isn't always easy to tell the difference, is it? I think Truly Upset would be if, after the tantrum has been to no avail, the child shows continued distress - maybe moodiness, temper outbursts, unusual quietness, cries for 'no reason', keeps on bringing up the subject of his grievance, etc. A tantrum is quickly forgotten, but 'truly upset' about something isn't. Then it's time to take the child aside and delve into the matter.
     
  7. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Like the others have said - the tantrum is the out of control part, being upset is the crying part. You teach the child that it is ok to get upset, but that temper tantrums are not an acceptable form of communication. Meltdowns are never justifiable, crying is. If the child gets really upset and you aren't prepared to bargain (and I have never bargained with our boys, I only use No when I absolutely and categorically mean No) its kinda tough cookies. I don't mean that to sound cruel and I always validated their feelings and offered my sympathy, but you can't parent if you worry all the time about your child getting upset by your decisions.
     
  8. chamoisee

    chamoisee Well-Known Member

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    To me, a tantrum is deliberate, and a meltdown is not. Tantrums can be the result of meltdowns that have resulted in definite rewards, such as, child had a meltdown for a good reason, mother gave the kid candy or a brand new toy to console it, and child then goes on to deliberately pitch a fit when they want something and imagine that it can't easily be had by simply asking politely.

    I don't think a meltdown should be punished, but it shouldn't get the child something fantastic, either.

    Example: I have a son who is being evaluated for a possible autism spectrum disorder. He has a lot of meltdowns, it doesn't take much. Just a change in the routine or something unexpected can be cause for lots of crying and hand-flapping and banging his head on the floor in frustration. This isn't a tantrum, he's overwhelmed and gets just extremely distraught. But, if I were to try to talk him out of it by offering him a new Thomas the tank engine car...... :rolleyes: What kind of incentive would he have to try to maintain control of himself?
     
  9. frazzlehead

    frazzlehead AppleJackCreek Supporter

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    Yes... that's one other component of the whole thing: crying / throwing a fit / inappropriate reactions mean that Mommy now CANNOT change her mind.

    So, when my son was small and got told "probably not today" (or some other negotiable sort of 'no') and then started in on a hissy fit, I'd remind him that I *sometimes* change my mind, but if he cries, I no longer can change my mind and no is no. I even explained to him (when he was calm) that I didn't want him to think that crying got him what he wanted, and so, even if I might have changed my position otherwise, if he cried or made a scene, then my decision was made for me and I could not in good conscience "give in".

    Worked pretty well, for the most part. Of course, he's headed for the teeange years now.... :S
     
  10. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Thanks you guys. This rather abrupt shift in our lives from "childless" to "aunt and uncle/ sister and brother-in-law / keepers of wisdom (US?!?)" is a bit of a shock. Most people get to start small and work up to this sort of thing. We've been heaved in off the deep end with no experience to draw upon except our own two wildly disfunctional childhoods. But our friend has probably seized upon us because we've made ourselves available and been rock solid through this whole divorce. I personally am a great believer in consistency and "traditions," even if they are pretty simple ones... like every time we drive over to shop in the big city we go to the same little bakery for a coffee and little pastry. For some reason it adds... weight... a sort of highlight... to something which would otherwise be a chore.

    The human mind looks for patterns and seizes on them. So when those patterns are broken, even if the pattern was completely disfunctional, people unhindge until they can establish new patterns. Think "cigarette after dinner." The established pattern, more or less, post father moving out was to have the dog go back and forth with the kids. At the expense of the dog's health. So Dad has decided that since the dog is pretty much "his" (the kids don't participate in its care, the wife doesn't participate in its training) it would not be going back and forth.

    Break a pattern, unhindge a kid in an already pretty scary new situation. But he can't allow a 10 year old to dictate policy on something like this. IF the kid had been taking (good) care of the dog, feeding it, grooming it, etc, then I could see a case for "back and forth," but that is not what's happening.

    Thursday I've got the kids while he does a court "stuff." And I know this topic is going to come up. Secretly I think what might be going on in kid brains is "Daddy can decide the dog isn't going home and the dog will never see mommy again... what if he decides I can't go home and see mommy again." But maybe not.

    Um.. help?
     
  11. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Time out- as in "go get control of yourself"- see my thread on near parental meltdown. For child and/or parent whoever needs it
     
  12. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    In either case, it's obvious the child is upset. All the parenting books say it's best to not give attention (good or bad) to a tantrum. After the child has calmed down - having been removed to a safe place if necessary, tell them that you understand they are upset/angry/whatever word, but such behavior is not acceptable. Children just like adults do whatever they think will work for them. If they get nothing for tantrums the tantrums should soon end.

    Hugs
    Marlene