Sorry, Child. Your tears have no power here!


Perhaps the greatest change in my parenting from first child to last child was the power that kids’ tears and tantrums had over my life. As a new mom, I was afraid of Michael’s emotions. Literally afraid. If he whimpered, cried, or pitched a fit, I snapped to attention, trying to address whatever issue he had. I felt anxious when he cried. Guilty. Sad. Embarrassed. Not so by the time Matthew was a professional fit-thrower. I wish someone had told me the following to put me out of my misery:


1)   Kids cry. Kids cry for no reason. Kids can cry for a long time for no reason. Sometimes they cry for a reason like they want to eat a fruit fly, but their mom said “no.” Someone has to be rational at your house. My 2 year-old niece was unable to discern that fruit flies were not good to eat even if she did like fruit. Speak with gentleness but with authority. You are in charge.


2)   Saying wise things to a tantrum-throwing child is unwise. They have lost all sense of reason. Perhaps they never had the sense in the first place. Be the parent and simply pick them up and move them to a tantrum-throwing venue. Cars work well if you are out running errands. Bedrooms serve the purpose at home. If the child is at your house and can’t be moved easily, move yourself to your room. Losing an audience can often shorten the show. (Destructive tantrum throwers need a safe place to exhaust themselves.)


3)   Sometimes the only power I have in a tantrum is to time how long it lasts. I simply start the timer on my watch and ask the fit-thrower to tell me when they are finished. Once they are done, the time can be exchanged for chores for my lost time dealing with the tantrum, or they can go to bed early because they must not be getting enough sleep. Or you can simply chart the time that tantrums last and set goals to reduce the time. (This is for a child who understands the concept.)


4)   Don’t be embarrassed. Kids throw fits. Even yours. Sometimes in public. When we get embarrassed the child gets a little bit of leverage. You feel the “bad mom” guilt creep in. STOP it!  Why would you have guilt because your child is acting like a child? You can only control yourself at this point. Don’t throw a fit yourself and you’re golden.


5)   If someone leaves their crying child with me, I don’t mind at all. I don’t take it personally. Instead, I assume the child really likes their mom and they are learning to separate from her. They will learn. I can play loud praise and worship music and wait.


6)   If a child is sad and crying, agree with them rather than speaking rationally against their tears. Rather than explaining for the 5th time the Cheerios are gone, try something new: “What? You’re sad that we ran out of Honey Nut Cheerios? I bet you wish a giant Cheerio truck would show up in our driveway and back up their dump truck into your cereal bowl with Cheerios spilling all over the table and filling our kitchen up to the ceiling. Wouldn’t that be cool?”


7)   For the child who is mad at you: “Wow, you sure are mad at Mom!” I bet you wish I would say, “Sure you can go play in the mud in your new shoes. Jump around! See if you can get them so stained that they can never be cleaned. But I’m not, cause I’m the mom. I love you even when you’re really mad at me.”


8)   Retrain your mind. Rather than wondering what you are doing wrong or if you are a bad mom or if your child is really horrible, instead remember kids cry and their tears and fits have NO POWER OVER YOU!

If your kids are over the tantrums, practice giving another the mom the sympathetic look when her child is ramped up.  The look says, “Kids cry.  I feel for you.  It will be over soon and I’m sure they will return to being a great kid.”

If your kids are not done with fits and crying and you are on the receiving end of a look that says, “Dang, can’t you control your kid?  He must have a problem.

 Return the look with your own,”Kids cry.  I’m not happy with this behavior either.  Get over it.” look. Then smile and walk on.

Sorry, Child. Your tears have no power here!


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