My house has been Ground Zero for recent memory. DS is 2, with all the joy that entails. He has had a temper since he was born, and kicks, throws, and pulls hair. DD is 5, and is finally discovering the depths of her temper. She was never a temper tantrum thrower–her “terrible twos” were a cake walk compared to her brother. But now, she gets angry, and can’t find ways to control it. It manifests physically, of course–trembling, shaking fists, crossing the arms. And shouting, to high heaven. Together, the two of them ensure that a goodly portion of every day is spent screaming.
Today, we had a bad morning. She and DS were fighting over who got to sit in one particular chair for breakfast. Grammie was here, and she and DD fought about getting out of the chair, and DD was VERY angry with her. I had to haul DD up to the bedroom and read her the riot act for being mean to her Grammie. DD told me something VERY telling, with tears and clenched fists: “I don’t know how to stop!”
That brought me up short. Of course she doesn’t know how to stop. That’s one of my primary jobs as a parent, teaching my children to control their emotions appropriately. I’ve never really had to teach her before, which is so intensely clear in how I deal with DS. He defeats me almost regularly. He will not stay in a timeout. Taking something away from him only ratchets up the tantrum to eardrum-vibrating levels. I confess, I’ve spanked him more than once–it does diddly squat. The resort to the physical is happening more and more here: DD refuses to move and go to her room, and we bodily pick her up and remove her. DS pulls someone’s hair, and his hand gets a swat. DS, I’m not TOO worried about yet, because he’s still little and doesn’t understand what he needs to do with his anger. But I need better strategies with DD now.
After she told me she didn’t know what to do, I calmed down significantly. (Clearly, that is the first new strategy I need to adopt: remember that she doesn’t know these things, and get control of my own damn temper. WHY is this so hard??) I told her when she gets upset, she needs to take deep, deep breaths and count to ten. In truth, though, this doesn’t really work for her. She needs to do it several times to really get a grip on herself. So, MTers, I need some suggestions. What techniques work for your kids to control their temper? I need to teach her these things. I think she gets really scared when she gets so out of control!
This doesn’t bode well for when DS gets older–he is going to be twice as bad. Easily. I will either have to lock him up or send him to boarding school if I can’t figure this out.