Toddler tantrums and an entitled society

 

A celeb went viral a few months ago for a post he made about parenting. In it, you could see his 4 year old throwing a fit at the store and he was letting her work through it. Rather than forcing her to do anything, he was just letting her work through her feelings so they could move on.

There were cries of outrage and there were screams of joy that someone was parenting in this way.

The outrage came from people who feel as though letting your child throw a fit creates an entitled child. They feel that the kid needs to get up and do exactly what the parent wants and behave in public or they’re going to get in trouble. Many people cited spanking as a means to an end to get a kid to listen and commented that the people who were in favor of letting their kid behave in this way were attachment, crunchy parents – and they meant that as a derogatory term.

I disagree for many, many reasons and I am not a crunchy mom.

Think back to the last time you were super mad about something. If someone walked up to you, picked you up or tried to hug you and tell you to get over it, how would that feel? I bet you $10 you wouldn’t get over it. I bet you $20 you’d get madder and I bet you $30 you’d react or at least consider reacting and try to distance yourself from that person.

Why do you expect something different from the least rational human beings on the planet? Toddlers and younger kids have complex needs that they don’t even begin to understand. Toddlers especially cannot even tell you what they need in some cases. Can you imagine how difficult it must be living in a body that desperately needs something, but can’t explain exactly what they want? Can you imagine how hard it must be to get told no so frequently? These are the lives toddlers live.

And if you think I’m someone that thinks a kid should be allowed to roam and do as they please, you’re also inaccurate and you’ve misjudged me.

Kids do need to listen, but we need to have realistic expectations for their age group. I do not expect my 2 year old to know how to sit through a full 1-1.5 hour dinner. I can barely sit still that long. I do not get mad at her when she tries to get down. Do I make her try to sit? Yes. Do I sometimes get up and walk with her? Yes. She has limits. She is learning.

I do not think that if you child throws a fit you should give into said fit. THAT breeds entitlement. The notion that if I throw a fit and cry hard enough my mom will toss me that popsicle because she just wants me to shut up is definitely something I’d continue to employ as a means to an end if it was successful. Heck yes.

But that’s not what this dad was doing. This dad said no to something. Their kid got worked up about it. They let her work through those feelings. They didn’t give her what she wanted, they just let her throw her fit, get it out of her system and then moved on. I parent similarly.

If Elle wants something and it’s not appropriate – like candy, I tell her no. When she melts down and throws a fit, I ignore her to the best of my abilities. I tell her to let me know when she’s doing with her feelings and then we can play together again. She works through her feelings. She periodically even looks up at me to see if I am paying attention and I do my best to avoid eye contact. I make sure she’s safe and can’t hurt herself and I carry on with my day.

When’s the last time you did something over and over again with no reward? Conditioning teaches you if something is or isn’t worth your effort. No means no in my house. It means you’re not getting that and no amount of kicking and screaming is going to make it happen for you. Sorry bout it. Eventually, when she realizes that her tantrums are just that – tantrums, she will stop. She will stop crying and whining and she will start doing things that do result in rewards. It’s a basic notion really, but it’s very complex.

I agree with the dad in the supermarket on so many levels. Nobody is more frustrated about a situation like that – it’s super embarrassing. What would also be embarrassing is watching her grow up assuming she can be a giant pain in the butt and get her way. It would be embarrassing to know that she thinks she deserves these handouts in the world and that we’re going to give them to her if she raises enough hell. THAT is embarrassing. I can explain a 2 year old throwing a fit. I can’t explain a 15 year old that thinks she deserves everything and doesn’t want to put effort in. That’s when I’ll feel like a failure. Until then, my house may be a little louder occasionally, but shhh, we’re teaching some serious life lessons over here.

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