26 Feb T is for Tantrums
Enjoy this excerpt from EP author Elizabeth El Mostain’s new book, Survival Tips for Mums: Practical ideas for thriving in the early years of motherhood:
The days following the birth of a new baby are a strange mixture of joy, pain, exhaustion, excitement and change. I have been blessed with six children. While motherhood is a wonderful privilege, it is also very hard. When my eldest daughter turned ten, I celebrated a decade of motherhood by sharing ten ‘mummy survival tips’ on Facebook, which eventually grew into a book. ‘Survival Tips for Mums’ is divided into two parts. The first looks at ways in which mothers can take care of themselves mentally, physically, spiritually and socially so that they are better equipped to serve their families. The second provides an A–Z of practical tips and ideas for mums. Here is an extract from ‘T is for teething, tummy bugs and tantrums’:
Although this book is not primarily about discipline issues, tantrums are such a prominent feature in the lives of many toddlers that they deserve a mention. I have recently noticed that there seem to be two types of toddler tantrum. Younger toddlers have times when their emotions are quite simply out of control and they don’t appear to remember what made them upset in the first place…My twenty-month-old has these quite regularly at the moment. I find that what she needs most is a great big cuddle, and to be held firmly and lovingly until the storm of emotion subsides and we can go on to the next thing.
Then there is the second type of tantrum, in which an older toddler knows exactly what he wants and has decided to make as much fuss as possible until he gets it. I only remember my oldest daughter having one of these. She threw herself down in the snow and kicked and screamed because she didn’t want to leave the park. My second daughter has a gentle, compliant nature… And then our son was born. Oh yes. One day I told the ladies at church that I feared I was raising a monster. He went through a phase of having five or six major tantrums every day when he couldn’t have what he wanted. I remember trying to put him back into his pushchair outside the nursery school, after collecting his sister. Screaming and tummy pushing, body stiff as a plank. Unbendable… I finally clipped the pushchair buckle closed and looked up sheepishly at another mother who was standing nearby, casually watching me and smoking. ‘Don’t worry, I have the same at home,’ she said, wryly.
The most embarrassing tantrum happened when I was in a health food shop buying oats, which at that stage were difficult to find in normal French supermarkets. Bird song music filtered sweetly through the sound system. People were calmly buying their soy milk and ecological washing powder. My son decided he wanted one of the expensive organic chocolate bars on display near the till. I said ‘No,’ and off he went. The queue was long, but it seemed like an eternity before we got out of the shop. There is only one way to deal with this sort of tantrum: Never give in. Say quietly and firmly, ‘Mummy said no. You will not get what you want by kicking and screaming.’
You are the boss. You know what is best for your child. Don’t give in, even when you feel like everyone in the shop is staring at you wondering if you or your child (or both) are crazy. This is very much a case of ‘short-term pain for long-term gain.’ Jesus knows all about this, and on a much larger scale. Ask him for help. The book of Hebrews says that ‘for the joy that was set before him [Jesus] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God’ (Hebrews 12:2). Giving in to tantrums for the sake of short-term peace would lead, in the long run, to spoilt children who think they are entitled to whatever they like, whenever they like, if they just make enough fuss.
It took my son over a year to realise that the tantrums didn’t get him what he wanted. During this year I wondered if not giving in was really having any effect at all. Of course, there were times when other types of discipline were also necessary. I am pleased to say that he is now a polite, friendly six-year-old who hasn’t had a tantrum for many years. He laughs when I tell him how he used to make such a scene. Don’t give up hope! Children go through phases. Sometimes they grow out of things without you doing much at all!
Grab your copy in the UK here today! Available soon in the US!
£7.99 | 176 pages
Elizabeth El Mostain grew up in London and studied Fine Art and French at Aberystwyth University. She and her husband have been serving in France with United For Mission (UFM) since 2010. Her husband is the pastor of a French Baptist church. They have four daughters and two sons.