Mama Mantra: We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists
Posted April 15, 2016 by Prairie Wife - 2 comments
A lot of my friends and I have children the same age. This is wonderful for many reasons. Not only do our children always have someone to play with but, we know houses will be baby/toddler proof, if accidents happen there will be clothes to share and last but not least we have someone to chat with about the ups and downs of mothering.
In my group of friends we don’t hold back (you may have noticed that same tendency on the blog) and there have been many “mama mantras” that have become a staple of our parenting and friendship journey. Several of us currently have toddlers and preschoolers and with this age comes much joy…and many tantrums.
My first child Cowboy J is a typical oldest child. He is a rule follower and has never needed much correction. He went through a brief tantrum stage but really nothing that was unmanageable. Fast forward to Cowgirl G and all the drama that comes with a little girl. Quite soon after she turned two she began to throw tantrums.
Let’s take a moment to describe tantrums, because really there are 3 levels.
Level 1: Stomping feet while standing, whining and using some words, eyes are open and still able to hear your words.
Level 2: Laying on the ground or playing “limp noodle” while crying and screaming, not hearing anything that you say.
Level 3: Laying on ground or flailing (may take a “break” to throw objects), screaming, tears, unintelligible yelling of words (alternating between “I don’t like you” and “I want my mommy”), and can be classified as a weapon in some countries.
When Cowgirl G first started throwing tantrums it was usually a Level 1. I could firmly talk to her and usually get her out of it by explaining that I knew she was upset but needed to do what I asked. She’d calm down and we could move on with our life.
Something happened after a week or two, and we escalated to Level 2 tantrums. I tried to firmly talk to her, hold her, offer words of comfort, bribery and even spanked her. These tricks worked maybe 20% of the time. Often, I found the best thing to do was to lead her to her room and tell her to come out when she was done. If we were in public I would place her on the ground and practice my “isn’t being a mom great” smile while I waited her out.
As children often do, Cowgirl G realized that I was feeling in control of the situation and decided to up her game to Level 3 tantrums. I actually timed one of her tantrums at a bit over two hours. By this point I had formed my mama mantra “We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists” and when I could see that it was going to be a long one I carried her into her room and told her to come find me when she was done. It was truly epic and she screamed and trashed her room like an 80’s pop icon. When she was done she came out and I gave a big hug, told her I loved her and then we proceeded to complete the original task that had triggered her rage.
I’ve learned that when my kids slip into a Level 2 or 3 tantrum it’s not worth anyone’s energy to try and negotiate with them. Even the sweetest calmest voice can’t get through to them.
Is it frustrating? Hell yes! I’ve lost hours of my life and been forced to cancel plans to allow my child to work themselves out of a tantrum.
Is it worth it? Yup, I think it is. Our kids have every right to be mad and frustrated. I’ve felt like throwing a tantrum or two of my own lately. But, I think it’s important for them to learn that this kind of behavior won’t change anything. When they are done raging they still need to complete the original task that was asked of them.
That’s life isn’t it?
We get mad, we don’t want to do things, but in the end we suck it up and do it anyway.
Is it hard to stick to this rule? Sometimes. But, by this point, I’ve been through it and seen the end results…and they are well worth it. When my kids see that I won’t negotiate with terrorists they eventually realize that the quicker they calm down and complete the desired task, the sooner things will get back to being fun. They know when they come out of their room I’ll great them with a smile and a hug (I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness through this process) and that we will continue on with our day. Once you’ve dealt with a Level 2 or 3 tantrum in the middle of Target or Church you learn that the worst that happens is a few dirty looks and sweaty armpits. Surprisingly enough, most of the time I usually receive a wink or understanding smile from a parent that’s been there.
Trust me on this, next time your toddler or preschooler throws a tantrum just repeat our mama mantra to yourself over and over “We Don’t Negotiate With Terrorists” and while it may get worse before it gets better (kids just love to push us to our limits), I know that you’ll soon reap the rewards!
Note: Sometimes when you child throws a tantrum you need to remove them from the situation (like in church). In cases like this I lift them up and take them somewhere that they can tantrum away and wait for them to calm down. We then go back to where we started and continue on. It is really important not to give up and drive home (unless of course you have a vital appointment to get to) because, they need to learn how you want them to behave in that public place.
How do you deal with tantrums?
Do you think this mantra will help you?