Be Like Willy Wonka
I’m now on child #2 who throws some high quality (read intense) temper tantrums. Like whoa.
#1 has always had a biiiiiiiiiig personality, and her upset has been out of this world from the start. I’ll never forget, right around her first birthday, she screamed and cried so hard for over an hour that I called my pediatrician to see if I needed to take her to the ER because I was sure all of her organs had burst internally. It was mindblowing. 🤯
#2 is starting to have some really big feelings, too. She gets very loud and screechy and loves to throw things. Oh joy.
So with #1, when she was upset, I could. not. handle. it. The sound of her wailing...aaaaaah...I wanted to do anything I could to stop it. Hold her, distract her, talk to her, shake her (not really, but she definitely gave me insight into how so many babies are found with shaken baby syndrome). You get the idea. I felt responsible for her upset and felt responsible for making it stop. I grew dramatically involved with every outburst. It was exhausting.
Thanks to #1, I found Janet Lansbury, and she has really changed my perspective on parenting. Big time.
So now when #2 gets on a roll of upset, I am learning to be like Willy Wonka during the Augustus Gloop debacle.
Let me explain. As you may recall, Augustus Gloop started drowning in Wonka’s river of chocolate and then proceeded to get stuck in a clear plastic chute as the river of chocolate backed up behind him. Everyone else was getting frazzled. But what did Willy Wonka do? He sportscasted the event. He watched Augustus go through that tube and waited for him to pop out after the pressure grew strong enough to cause the release. See where I am going with this?
(Watch the awesomeness here.)
THAT is what effective parenting looks like. Sit back, be present, and watch the storm pass by in a giant plastic chute without feeling the need to stop it. Just say what you see. Do not own any part of it. Do not try to convince the little child to have any other emotion. Just watch her go by, get stuck in the chute, then release when she is ready.
At the beginning this is hard. So hard. Because we are conditioned to try to stop the upset. And we also tend to go to this place of catastrophizing...this place of placing meaning on something far beyond what is true...and usually about ourselves as parents. It shows up like—“I will not have a brat in my family!“ Or “I will not raise a disrespectful little twerp!” But really what we are feeling is, “I am failing as a parent. How did I raise a child who doesn’t have the decency to be grateful and calm just because something doesn’t go her way? It’s not the end of the world. Get over it.”
But they can’t. Because that’s not where they’re at. And it ain’t about you, mama. And it doesn’t mean anything. Ok, it means something, but more like, “Mom, I am a tiny human who wants to act like a big human, but I can’t handle it, and things aren’t going my way, and I don’t have the tools to cope with this, so I’m going to scream and look insane because my brain isn’t developed enough to do anything else.” THAT’S what it means.
Let’s just say, hypothetically speaking, you’ve been very very overwhelmed with something that isn’t going your way, you’re sleep deprived and you’re annoyed at your spouse, the pressure of the insanity around you is mounting, and then something seemingly insignificant happens, and it trips the alarm and you go completely bananas. 🤪😫🍌 Just hypothetically, of course. 😂😂😂 The thing that resets your overly taxed nervous system is an adult “tantrum.” Either we mom rage, or we cry, or we yell, or hopefully we choose something more productive, but the point is that we do something to release the mounting pressure. And then we feel better. And the same is true for our kids. Except they generally do not have mature enough brains to “do something more productive.”
And that’s our job, to model how to do something better. 😬😬😬 *Le sigh*
So, Godspeed to you. Good luck! 😜 JK. More on how to do that in another post, but I’m still working on that, too...forever...
Ironically, and not really, because let’s face it, parenting is HARD, and no parent is perfect, I just threw a toy mallet down the hallway when no one was looking. 😆 I’ve put that dang thing in the donate pile THREE TIMES because the kids keep hammering every surface in our house with it, and it keeps coming back. What is it? A cat? 6 more lives to go. 🐱 Meow.