Butler County Times Gazette
  • Lost in Suburbia: When kids leave you fit to be tied

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  • When my daughter was little, she was the queen of the hairy fits. There was no warning, other than a sharp intake of breath, followed by silence, and then, hairy fit. It was kind of like an oncoming tornado. Hence the phrase, “Calm before the storm.”
    The reasons for the fits were never anything I could predict either. Sometimes it was the wrong color hair band, or perhaps the fact that we were out of string cheese. In hindsight, I could usually trace it back to her being tired or about to get sick. But at the time, the tantrums seemed as random as the lottery, although I never felt particular lucky about winning this particular game.
    Since my first child was not a hairy-fit thrower, I was really at a loss for how to deal with the fit-throwing of the second child. Most of my friends advised me to ignore it, but that’s tough to do in a public place when your kid is taking up every inch of the floor in the aisle of the supermarket with her “You bought Honey Nut Cheerios and I wanted regular Cheerios” fit.
    So I bought a couple of books about dealing with your child’s tantrums. One expert recommended the distraction technique:
    “Look, a bear!” I yelled one day while my daughter was screaming her head off. Unfortunately we were inside at the time, and she was smart enough to realize I was lying.
    Another book suggested I choose my battles. This made me wonder, if my child is throwing a tantrum because she wanted a roller coaster in her room, should I give in or draw the line at large amusement park rides in the house? I didn’t know.
    The third book advised me to leave the room. Of course this works best if you are home and not in a public place where you will be arrested for abandoning your child. When I actually tried this one, my daughter did stop throwing her fit. But then she got up, followed me into the next room and started her fit all over again.
    I finally decided I needed to come up with my own way to stop the tantrums.
    The next time she threw a fit, I watched for a minute and then I cleared my throat. She looked up at me.
    “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to give that one a B-,” I announced. “I don’t feel like you were really putting your heart in it.”
    She looked at me in disbelief, got up and walked away.
    Empowered by my new strategy, the next time she threw a tantrum, I tried the same technique. But this time she ignored me.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I thought I had the solution to the tantrums,” I told my husband later. “But apparently it only worked the one time.”
    “Keep trying, honey,” he encouraged me. “You’ll figure it out.”
    Confident I could come up with a way to end the tantrums on my own, I tossed the help books and decided to just wing it.
    The next time she threw a fit, I got down on the floor and threw a fit next to her. I figured, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” I was hoping the sight of me screaming on the floor would show her just how ridiculous the whole tantrum thing was.
    I was screaming and kicking for about a minute when she stopped, got up off the floor and stood over me.
    I stopped yelling and sat up.
    “I give that one a B-,” she announced. “I just don’t think you were putting your heart into it.”
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    For more Lost in Suburbia, follow Tracy on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage or Twitter @TracyinSuburbia.

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