A Li’l Rant About Tantrums

E is a pretty cool kid. He is also quite challenging at the moment.

So far, we have not had any negative reports from his teachers in terms of his behaviour. Aside from that time in the fall when he didn’t want to participate in gym (it was understandably overwhelming, with 30 kids bouncing and echoing around), he seems to be adjusting well to school. We’ve been assured that he’s not a whiny kid at school, and he plays well with others.

I think sometimes it’s hard for him to be around so many kids at once, for such a long time, every weekday. Both his parents walk the line between introversion and extroversion – needing social time but also alone time, enjoying friends but not being overly fond of crowds or mingling.

I’m wondering if this is why he often… loses his cool, shall we say, when he’s at home. Perhaps he just reaches his limit. I know I do sometimes.

Honestly, he freaks out over very small things. Like his sock is crooked, or a Cheerio falls on the floor, or (this is a classic for him) the cheese doesn’t want to stay in his sandwich. And any injury, no matter how small, is cause for screaming.

He’s been like this since before school started; but his reactions are becoming more annoying and entrenched. Typical responses to minor problems these days include:

  • horrible shrieking
  • clamping hands over ears (especially if one of us speaks sternly to him)
  • delivering a hefty poke or tiny-fisted punch to whatever part of whatever parent is nearest
  • using a super-attitude-y nasty voice (“But, MUMMY, that’s NOT what I MEANT!”)
  • saying, with the drama of a teenager, “I hate you!!” (Lately, he’s taken to adding “right now” to this, because he knows we will call him on it later.)

He knows that none of these things get him what he wants. He knows that we don’t approve of any of them (except maybe the first, but only if it’s warranted, i.e. once out of 1.27 jillion times).

I wish I could say we had consistent ways of dealing with the behaviours, but we don’t. Sometimes we hold forth with angelic patience. Sometimes we try to reason things out (ha). Sometimes we snap at him. Sometimes we scoop him up and stick him in his room (I do this when my ears are full – which they often are after a teaching day). Sometimes we use a really scary voice. Sometimes we use a hug.

Most of the time, I feel pretty certain that it’s just a phase and totally normal. Once in a while, I wonder if something is really wrong with him – if his anxiety is actually much higher than it should be. Or if we did something to cause this. And I always wonder what is the parental reaction that we should be striving for – the one that would defuse the situation before it gets all intense. The one that would work.

Baby AB is also pretty dramatic, but at least she usually takes E’s episodes in stride. She’ll hear him freaking out, and gesture one hand in his direction and say, “Cry… cry.” All in a day’s work.

I would love to hear your insight on this one: if you have (or have had) kids who melt down, have you found a technique works for you/them to de-escalate matters? Do you use tough love or sympathy or both? What have you learned about tantrums? Thank you for your wisdom…

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Preschooleristics: 8 (or 10) “Close But No Banana” Quotables

1. “Look, Mama! There’s another digger at the instruction site.”

1b) “Let’s go see Auntie Beth in her impartment.”

1c) “Why do you have a doctor’s impointment?”

2. “I just typed a lot of prepostrophes.”

3. “When are we going to cook something on the barbecube?”

4. “Can we play Trevor Pursuit?”*

5. While playing Kingdom Rush: “We’re going to need some more guys in our infantreat.”

6. Having just run super-fast down the hill: “That was pretty runny!”

7. Regarding a tangled-up headphone cord: “Look at this big discussion!”

8. After I answered for the second time that the toothpaste the dentist gave us was “gentle mint” flavour: “This should be Daddy’s toothpaste because he’s a gentlemint.”

*Between Daddy, me, and Auntie Em, we have taught him to play something approximating Trivial Pursuit. Sometimes we make up the questions, and sometimes we ask real ones but make them all multiple-choice. Today he found a question card out of its box and asked me this one:

“Mama, what’s the answer to the pink question: Is it John Louise, Christopher Hoo-Fonz, or Bird Flack?” I wish you could have heard the eloquent pauses between “Chris” and “topher”, “Hoo” and “Fonz”.

I did not guess right, but he was gracious about it.

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Preschooleristics: 7 Quotables from a Mysterious Brain

Sometimes, the things that pop out of E’s mouth make me think he was some kind of poet-guru in a previous life. Like his words have deep meanings that I don’t fully understand as a regular adult (or have forgotten from my own previous life).

Then again, maybe they’re just random.

1. “You know what happened? All the animals live underground now.”

“What animals?”

“You know. All the animals. Mouses and lions and dinosaurs and ghosts. Like… giraffes and frogs. And turtles as well.”

2. Showing me his drawing: “It’s a treasure map! They’re seeking in their house for the treasure right now.”

“What is the treasure?”

“It’s a big red boot… with a ghost in it.”

3. Brandishing a hula hoop and knocking it against the backyard gate: “This used to be the old-fashioned way of opening gates.”

4. Looking at the sky with Daddy: “There’s a current of birds, flying to a special place in the sun.”

5. As I apply sunscreen to his arms: “Mmm. Smells like a soothing pool.”

6. Playing “I Spy” on the patio of a local cafe: “I spy something [sic] with my little eye, something that is red.”

“Is it something on the table?”

“No, it’s out there, in the deep world.”

7. We’ve told you about the arm-kissing. But we’ve discovered it’s even specialer than that.

“Daddy, I love my arm. It leaves at night.”

“Where does it go?”

“Just out.” Pause. “Daddy, what if it doesn’t come back?”

“Well, buddy, I can pretty much guarantee it’ll be there in the morning.”

**The next day**

“So, did your arm leave last night?”

“Yep.”

“Where did it go?”

“Just exploring. It keeps the night safe for me.”

Perfect.

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Preschooleristics: 9 Quotable Math Moments

Please note: I’ve been compiling quotations ever since the last one, so some of these come from the 3-year-old E, and some from the 4-year-old one. Just to be clear, since four is important.

Recently, we’ve noticed that he’s picking up on learning about numbers, size, speed, and measurement.

1. While playing with his Hot Wheels (every one of whose names he knows): “Retro Active goes infinity plus one and eighty percent fast!”

2. “Daddy, tonight I’m gonna let you sleep eighty-one kilometres.”

3. “I have thirty-nine cars. That’s the highest number there is.” (Actually, he has an embarrassingly much larger number of cars than that.)

4. Looking at our family around the dinner table: “Hey! Boy, girl, boy, girl. We’re a pattern family!”

5. “If the wind was seventy-one strong, it could blow us right out of town.”

6. When counting down his crayons, “This one’s the fourth, then the third, then the tooth.” (Or twoth, I suppose.)

7. While discussing the new cup he would get now that he’s four: “Yeah. It’ll be slightly larger than this cup.”

8. Having arranged his stuffies in order: “I made an echo. Look: bigger, mediumer, smaller.”

9. And a conversation with Mommy about upcoming festivities, shortly before his birthday:

E: I hate this!!

Mommy: You hate having a birthday?

E: No, I hate this terrible situation! This situation where three days is such a long time!

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