I thought we had got off lightly with YoungestGirl’s tantrums. She is annoyingly difficult to discipline, usually smiling beguilingly when you tell her off, or making you laugh despite yourself, but the positive side of this is she rarely loses control into a full-blown tantrum.
Whenever EldestGirl was made to sit on the naughty step, there were absolute histrionics, and we knew the best part of an hour would be wasted trying to calm her down again afterwards. She once had a tantrum for a full one hour and forty-five minutes because she had asked TheBloke ™ to draw a cat… and he drew the wrong sort of cat. (The bastard.)
The most we get from
Which leads me to ask the question – what is the appropriate punishment for a child who refuses to get off the naughty step?
On several occasions, after finally leaving the naughty step, YoungestGirl has demanded I apologise to her for telling her off.
However, last week YoungestGirl outdid herself with a spectacularly tenacious tantrum that even EldestGirl would have been proud of.
It started with YoungestGirl going to after-school club last week, which is new for her. It was only an extra hour after nursery, but it must have completely exhausted her. You can always tell how tired a child is, as it’s directly proportional to the ridiculousness of the reason for the tantrum.
This tantrum happened because when we got home from school, she realised that she’d forgotten to hold her bag all the way home. Now, we didn’t forget the bag. The bag was in the car, by her feet. She had just wanted to hold the bag. But she didn’t ask to hold the bag. The tantrum was because she had forgotten to ask to hold the bag all the way home.
Without a time machine, there’s no coming back from that one. It took me ten minutes (I wish this were a joke) to chase her around our driveway to get her into the house. I couldn’t even pick her up as a) she appears mostly to be made of lead or rocks and b) she was wearing a bulky, slippery coat that meant she wriggled out of my grasp each time I got a hold.
Once I finally got her indoors, she lay down flat in the hallway and started screaming and kicking anything her feet could reach. I moved EldestGirl’s belongings out of the way. YoungestGirl started trying to make a break for it upstairs. As she was scrambling away, I took her shoes off, so she didn’t tread mud over the carpet. This, apparently, was tantamount to child abuse, and unleashed another torrent of tortured screaming.
TheBloke ™ arrived home at this moment, utterly bemused as to why a be-coated, screeching
I know that to YoungestGirl, it must have seemed very mean of Mummy to be laughing at her torment, but I learned a long time ago that if you can laugh, you should. There are enough times as a parent where the situation doesn’t make that possible.
And also, come on, it is a little bit funny. It wasn’t so funny when EldestGirl was little, and both TheBloke ™ and I had to leave the house at 7 each morning to get her into childcare, and then do an hour’s commute into the city. It wasn’t so funny when we didn’t get home until 6, and needed to get her into bed by 7, otherwise she’d be grumpy the next day. It wasn’t even so funny at weekends because it felt that “precious family time” was being ruined by a tantrum.
But I am lucky. I am home with the girls most of the time (as far as school and nursery allows), and TheBloke ™ is usually home by 5. A tantrum now is something to smile at, rather than a catalyst for a disastrous day.
I had to go out to a meeting that evening, so TheBloke ™ held the fort. Apparently after her bath (following 45 minutes of hiding under her covers still wearing her coat), YoungestGirl had eventually calmed down, had some stories and gone to sleep.
I got home at about 9 p.m. and I thought I heard her. I went up to check on her. YoungestGirl was having – I shit you not – a sleep tantrum.
“Are you OK?” I asked her? Usually if she cries in the night it’s because she misses me. I am so great.
“YOU GO AWAY!” shouted YoungestGirl, sobbing.
I sat with her and stroked her hair but she was having none of it. Turns out she was fast asleep, remembering some earlier slight. She remembered nothing about it in the morning.
Sleep tantrums are taking it to the next level though. I give her that. Sneaky move, YoungestGirl, sneaky move.
This week she is doing breakfast club as well as after-school club. I look forward to reporting back on the severity of the meltdown.