The other day my house will filled with screaming, kicking, hitting and crying. A tantrum was in full swing and it was not pretty.
The kids weren't terribly happy either.
But I was just copying them. I thought babies cried a lot, but I can assure you that my 2-year-old and my 3-year-old turn on the water works that cause Biblical-proportion floods and I don't have as clue as to what to do about it.
Do I let them cry? Do I make them stop? Do I follow the theory of "if you can't beat them, join them" and pitch my own fit (because I sure so want to sometimes)?
Some "experts" (who are nameless because they know it's just false hope) say to tell your preschooler that you understand their frustration and that saying this will cause the child to pause and think, "Gee, Mom, you mean you understand that I'm crying because I want to eat the play-doh instead of playing with it? Wow, I feel much better now."
Sure. If you've never given this approach a try, let me tell you how it goes.
Mom: Sweetie, I understand that you're frustrated and angry.
Mom: Sweetie, sweetie, calm down. I want you to hear me...
Mom: Sweetheart, please--
Mom: Look, just stop for a second so I can tell you this!
Mom: Oh forget it...just tell me when you're done crying.
See, that's how that goes. Kid doesn't hear a word, Mom is wasting her breath.
My latest tactic with the 3-year-old is that if she is going to cry unnecessarily (over something silly) she must go to her room because I don't want to hear it. The 2-year-old isn't quite able to comprehend this and is an escape artist anyway, so I just try to talk him down.
If one of my children has a necessary reason to cry, I'm there. Arms outstretched, my own tears ready to join them - I'm there. I hate it when my children have a reason to cry. As much as I can't stand the tantrum crying, I never want them to have a reason for tears.
I wonder if there will ever be a time in a child's life that's tear free. Because by the time they outgrow the tantrums, they'll be school bullies, then broken hearts, then broken dreams. I know I still go to my mom crying on occasion.
I guess it's just a mother's job to wipe away the tears, regardless of the reason, whether her child is 3 or 30. I love my job.