Thursday, May 16, 2013

TANTRUMS -- It's a Teachable Moment

He had on the CUTEST cowboy costume a two-year old could wear. He donned a cowboy hat,
bandana, cowboy shirt, buckle, boots and a holster. He even liked what he was wearing but that was no guarantee that we were going to have a good time. We were at the Fall Family Festival, and my son was carrying his orange pumpkin from table to table getting candy he would never eat when he decided he was tired of it all and wanted his daddy who was working one of the tables. I told my beautiful son, we needed to get his sister off the jumpy (an inflatable bounce house of some sort) before finding his daddy and that’s when it started.
I was in complete shock and horror! He started throwing himself a good, old-fashioned, temper tantrum in front of God and everybody! We were in the middle of an open field, and there were no bathrooms in sight to whisk him off to. So, I told my daughter to go to her daddy’s table all the while my plump, little two-year-old darlin’ was pulling and screaming and bucking. He was madder than a hornet. Now he was getting ever madder because his sister was getting to go to his daddy which is where he wanted to be, but instead, I sat down.
In the middle of the field, I sat down, crossed my legs, and plopped his little behind in my lap. I placed his feet between my legs and crossed his arms in front of him and leaned forward. It was all I could do. He was screaming at the top of his lungs trying to throw himself backwards and thrashed around. He kept screaming, “Let me go! Let me go!” I kept calmly saying, “When you calm down, I can let go.” That made him even angrier. I don’t know how long this scene went on. Parents and their cute kids walked passed, staring down at me and my red-faced, two-year old screaming at the top of his lungs. I know we were there at least 15 minutes. Yes, 15 minutes. That is the shortest amount of time one of his temper tantrums would last regardless of location and time.
Most of the time he could pitch a fit (like we say in the South) that could last 30 minutes or more. My husband and I used that hold more times than I can count. It wore him out. When he had no self-control, this could at least control his body. He could fight against the resistance and wear his little self out. He learned that the more he was in control the looser my grip on his arms would be, and when he was in complete control, I could release his legs. But when he was completely out of control the tighter the constraint and the further forward I would lean.
I could have been embarrassed sitting down in that field and for a brief moment I was, but I would be more embarrassed raising a child who was not disciplined and who did not exercise self-control and self-restraint. I told my son that I would do this little thing with him wherever and whenever he decided to pull his tantrum and that I was up to the task. Would he try me? ARE YOU KIDDING?! Yes, he tried me. Sea World in their bathroom, I helped my son until he got himself under control. It was and is my preference to discipline my child in private, but sometimes that just isn’t an option, and my child needed to know that I was still the parent even in those situations.
There were times his tantrums were so bad that I was praying the power of the blood of the cross from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet. I prayed it over and over and over again while I wept holding my son thrashing and fighting against me, and I prayed it out loud. My son heard me praying for him and over him.
In all my days, I had NEVER seen anything like this. My daughter didn’t have the Terrible Twos or Trying Threes. She was so easy at that stage, so for my son to come out swinging like this was a shocker.
Momma Friends, I want to encourage you. Do we still have issues with anger? Yes. Do we have to put him in that hold? Very rarely. When we have to put him in that hold does it last 30 minutes or more? No, it does not. Please keep in mind, Momma Friends, this is a stage. What are they going to learn from you in this stage? What are they going to hear from you? What will they feel from you?
After every incident when he had regained self-control and was contrite, I led him in prayer to ask God to forgive him for being disrespectful and ugly and hateful. He may not have understood the words, but He knew who God was and that he had to apologize to him.
I can tell you I’ve done a lot of things wrong in rearing my kids, but this is one thing I think God will be pleased with in my choices of how I discipline my child, His child.

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