- Accident prevention: I held on tight to his arm so he didn't smack his head when he threw himself backward.
- Presenting of options: I knelt and, trying to look him in the eyes he'd scrunched shut in fury, said, "Boy, you can sit here and scream or you can go play with Miss A and the other babies."
- Ignoring the screams: When he didn't respond, I turned my back on him and finished putting away his jacket and hat.
Anyway, this particular tantrum at daycare did not stop immediately. The Boy was still prone and wailing when I turned around, and that's when I caught the pursed lips and lowered brows of Random Daycare Lady. She's not one of the babyroom regulars, so she doesn't know me. I suppose I did sound a little cold, informing my 12-month-old son he looked silly screaming on the floor. But I don't think I deserved Random Daycare Lady's stern look of disapproval. I'm not beating him. Even The Boy's doctor advised us to ignore his tantrums, providing we've determined he's fed, changed and unhurt. (check, check and check in this case) Should I allow my son -- an alleged bully and known biter -- to pitch a fit unchecked? I think not. I'm trying to do my son a service. I'm trying to save him from being the big bully, the nasty kid, a jerk no one likes. Am I doing it right? Oh who the hell knows. I guess we'll see in a few years, in 20 years, when both The Boy and I are old and gray.
All I know is what works right now to stem the rising tide of whine. See above tactics and also:
- Choices: The Boy might not be able to reason, but he can choose between two options. Between crying and playing, he often will choose playing.
- Careful observation: If I pay close attention to him, I've found I usually can stop The Boy's tantrums before he starts. He can't speak yet, but he points, grunts and has highly expressive eyebrows. A blanky or a cup of water goes a long way.
- Rewarding: Like our cat, The Boy believes any attention is good attention. We don't reward bad behavior like whining, but we do tell him when he's being good. "Thank you, Boy, for banging on your bowls while Momma cooks. It's so relaxing to hear that racket instead of whining."
- Words: The Boy doesn't really talk yet and he cannot be reasoned with, however, I have hope that those things are coming and I'm preparing. I've been talking to him more -- not that I was giving him the silent treatment before, but you get my point -- and telling him why I can't pick him up now, explaining I will play with him when I'm done doing whatever and, as stated above, giving him choices. After seeing how pleased he was when his grammy talked to him like a Big Boy, I realized it's all about expectations. Treat him like a newborn, a cute but uncommunicative lump, and he'll act that way.
The Boy, pondering the wisdom of my words ...