Saturday, February 5, 2011

Thank You, J.J., For What I Consider Sound Advice

About an hour ago a BabyCenter e-mail landed in our inbox entitled "Your 17-month-old: Week 4." These missives are occasionally helpful, sometimes interesting, often attempting to explain the obvious. This one caught my eye, though, because it starts off like this:
It will be a year or two before your toddler leaves most of his tantrums behind. Until then, expect to deal with outbursts of anger and frustration on a regular basis.
This caught my eye, because NJ has been on a tantrum roller-coaster lately. The apex came a couple of nights ago when I was pulling off her clothes before bath time -- she was in a foul, red-faced mood and stopped crying and wailing long enough to laugh every time I blew a mouth fart on her stomach. Her laughter lasted exactly as long as every raspberry; once it was over, laughter ended on a dime and wailing resumed. (Only the traditional "Ready for your bath?" query ended the tantrum once and for all. She responds to this question with a smile, a head-nodding "Yeah!", a roll-over on the changing table and an attempt to climb down that is clearly her going through the motions, because she knows I won't let her and will pick her up.)

Lots of things trigger tantrums these days -- The Wife's unforgivable failure to hold her indefinitely is a current favorite. (Sadly, my holding her instead doesn't seem to be the answer -- NJ accepts no substitutes.) So you can imagine the mix of relief and anticipation I felt as I clicked on the BabyCenter link to find out what to do about these tantrums. The first thing that caught my eye was the phrase "magic formula," but a closer read ended in disappointment -- these experts were not, in fact, passing on a sure-fire recipe, but rather telling me there was no such thing. Instead, I got this:
A tantrum usually burns itself out faster if you act neutral or even ignore it instead of responding with a sympathetic cluck or rational explanation. Once your child calms down, offer her a lap and a chance to regroup. Try distraction (rather than giving in to something you refused). Don't punish a tantrum. At this age, your child can't help herself.
So this one goes in the "tell me something I don't know" file.

These tantrums wear more on The Wife and I than they do NJ. Once they're over, she's all smiles and sunshine and rainbows. If one lasts long enough, and is loud enough, I don't stop thinking about it for a long time.

I would ask for advice, but 1) I get the feeling that, as bland as BabyCenter's take on tantrums is, it's about all there is to say on the matter, and 2) I doubt anyone can help because, obviously, we are the first couple in the history of parents to go through such a thing. Right?

No comments:

Post a Comment