We have all heard of the expression 'The Terrible Twos' and it doesn't take long for parents of the world to realise that this expression is a gross understatement of reality.
Why? Because children aren't just prone to terrible tantrums at the age of two: this alliterated expression, although massively memorable and cleverly creative is insanely inaccurate!
The truth is, children have tantrums at ALL ages: age 2, 12, 22... Hell, my husband still has them now at the age of 43!
Based on this cold harsh reality, learning to manage our children's insufferable mood swings is essential and I have devised some effective strategies to help us through the lifetime of tormenting tantrums that awaits each and every one of us.
Behold the four most common tantrums and how to handle them:
The most common of tantrums has to be the 'Plank'.
The 'Plank' occurs when a child, against the wishes of his well-meaning parent, refuses to go in his pram and stiffens into a hard, horizontal, human plank.
The' Plank' is usually accompanied by ffortissimo expressions of hysteria which is guaranteed to draw a crowd. Sometimes these expressions are so shrill that only dogs will hear them, thus don't be surprised if the entire cast of 101 Dalmatians flock towards the source of the aural obscenity.
So, how do you handle the Plank?
1. Fold your child in half (as you would a garden deck chair) and reinsert into the pram.
2. Use one hand to grab the pram's strap to secure the child whilst using the other hand to stick a massive Jammie Dodger into his mouth.
3. Once the child is suitably distracted by the delicious Dodger, secure the other strap around his midriff, puff up your hair proudly with both hands and then skip down the street past your audience, pushing your pram whilst singing the chorus to Queen's 'Don't Stop Me Now' as you go...
''Don't stop me now, cos I'm having a good time, I'm having a ball, la, lah!"
A less common but equally challenging tantrum is what I refer to as 'The Anchor'.
'The Anchor' occurs when one or more frustrated children decide to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the world and it's rules by wrapping their bodies around your calves, rendering you totally immobile.
The 'Anchor', as with 'The Plank' is usually accompanied by Oscar-worthy displays of emotion that threaten to shatter your delicate ear drums and/or tempt your neighbours to call social services.
How to handle the 'Anchor'?
1. The 'Anchor' actually has the most glorious of silver linings. As you stand there rooted to the spot, ask yourself, when was the last time that you actually were able to stand still for longer than 45 seconds?
Not since giving birth!
So, embrace this opportunity to just be still. You deserve the break!! The longer they stay wrapped around your ankles, the longer you can just stand there and give your aching arches a rest.
NB. If the noise is more than you can stand, insert your index fingers into your ears to block out the screams and sing a nice melody to calm your tormented spirit. I find Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day' is a particularly effective melody to hum when anchored to the floor by screaming kids.
'It's such a perfect day, I'm glad I spend it with you....'
The 'Shower' is the messiest tantrum of all! It usually occurs when a child decides on the spur of the moment that they are no longer satisfied with your culinary efforts and so feel the need to lob your homemade spaghetti bolognese at your head whilst you cower from the 'shower' behind your dining room chairs.
Vulgar expressions of disgust usually accompany this ferocious attack of flying food:
'It's Gusting!!!", is common.
Or just a plain, 'Yuck!!', more so.
So, how do you handle 'The Shower'?
Remove the cold spaghetti strands from your hair/face/shoulders and throw them into the bin. Lift the wailing toddler out of his high chair, put him in his car seat and head down to the nearest McDonalds to buy him a happy box of McBeige treats.
Whilst you're there, order yourself several items off the menu and stuff them into your face until the frustration of the last hour has drowned in a sea of euphoria ( induced by melted processed cheese, 'special' sauce and 100% beef patties-which are in likelihood comprised of cow's lips and assholes...or those of horses even.)
When your child's rage has subsided and he is happily sugared up ( and running around the 'restaurant' thrusting his 'free' balloon into stranger's faces), lure him back into the car and head home to clean the spaghetti off your lampshade/walls.
Lift a cauliflower cheese out of the freezer to defrost. And try again tomorrow.
THE SUPERMARKET SWEEP:
The 'Supermarket Sweep' is perhaps the most humiliating of tantrums because it always happens in public where the judgemental eyes of society are inwardly scoring your parenting skills.
The 'Sweep' occurs when your child decides that he wants to rip open and immediately devour every item that appears in bright colorful packaging on the shelves. These items constitute approximately 85% of the shop's stock and appear down every single aisle but are usually at their most dazzling right beside the checkouts. (Thanks Tesco's...thanks a bunch)
The child, upon noticing the bright packages, will sweep things off the shelves and then throw himself down to the floor and convulse like a rabid starfish if you object to his desires.
How to handle the Sweep?
1. Crouch down onto the floor and scoop your paralytic child up into your arms to comfort him.
2. Hold him close and slowly whisper into his ear that you will let him eat the entire bag of jam doughnuts that he is clutching if he promises to stop crying.
3. If this doesn't work, offer him the Haribo that you have stored in your pocket for such an occasion.
4. If the Haribo don't cut it, offer him cash.
Then, pop him back in the trolley and skip out of the shop whilst your fellow shoppers are left gob smacked by your incredible demonstration of remarkable parenting.
Once in the car, take his doughnuts away, hand him an apple and drive home as he spits mouthfuls of apple chunks at the back of your head.
When you arrive home, hide in the bathroom and finish off the entire bag of jam doughnuts until you're ensconced in a sugar-coma.
The 'Mega-Plank' is the most explosive tantrum of all!
It happens when a parent has been pushed to his/her limits by tantruming children and stiffens to form a giant, mucus- drenched, mega- plank.
And how does one handle the Mega-Plank?
Fold the parent in half (as you would a robust deckchair) and insert into a sofa. Put kids in bed and hand him/her a massive glass of wine and a remote control.
Hysteria should subside pretty quickly. If it doesn't, keep pouring the wine.
This post first appeared on Katy's blog http://www.carryonkaty.com
You can find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/carryonkaty