Saturday, 27 November 2010

Tantrums - how do you cope?

Monkey has a bit of a temper. He's been like that, almost since the day he landed on this earth. We even have footage of him as a baby, giggling and laughing away at us, when his mood turns suddenly and he starts crying instead. Missy Woo was a revelation in terms of being even tempered and sleeping well as a small baby when she arrived.

As time has gone on, and particularly since he's started school, tantrums have become a real issue with him. Every now and then, they happen. Normally, straight after school is the time. He walks out of school - where, it must be said, he will have been an angel all day long - and stridently demands something, I say no, and then it starts. Name calling, foot stamping, even violence against me and Missy Woo. I get all of it. 

Yesterday was a case in point. It was a freezing cold day and standing in the school playground was not a pleasant experience. (Why is it that they are always late out when the weather is wet or cold?) As we walked out of school, he stopped by the back gate and told me he wanted to look for his car which one of his school friends had kicked under the fence a few days ago. All I saw was a pile of leaves, and I was freezing - even the path was still icy. So, I told him no, we'd look another day when it was warmer and carried on walking back to the car. 

And that was it. I'm used to a bit of truculence but this was different. He went mad. He shouted at me, aimed his book bag at me, tried to hit me, all in the space of a few yards. He threw his jumper on the ground, which for some unknown reason, he was carrying instead of wearing.

We got to the car in a few minutes instead of a few seconds. We had an argument over who was sitting where in the car and finally I almost wrestled him into the car, during which he hit Missy Woo just because she was nearest. Finally, long after everyone else had left, and a reading of the riot act, we got away with the situation generally calmed, although his face was bright red from crying. 

However, we had to pop to Asda after school. He was a bit disobedient - every time I said no, he started off again and of course, that got people staring at us. The children went off to look at DS games as I went through the checkout and then he showed me a case for his DS that he wanted NOW which set him off again.

Back at the car and we were off again. He argued - and lied - about where he'd sat in the car on the way from school. He started screaming, and kicking out again so getting him in the car was a trial. Having had a final warning, I told him he was going straight to bed as soon as possible. The 5 minute drive home was hell - kicking, screaming, shouting stuff at me about how I was rude and horrible and how he wanted me to go away, or worse, go to prison and so forth. 

When we got home, I sent him straight upstairs to put his pyjamas on whilst I fix a quick tea. He threw his uniform downstairs. Everything I said was met with screams. I managed a tearful tweet on my phone before struggling through getting him to eat his tea, brush his teeth and go to bed, still with him screaming at me between mouthfuls, or every time I asked him to do something. Finally, I got him upstairs to his bed and I tried to have a chat about why he was going to bed so early - it was 5pm. By this time, he was contrite to try and make me go back on my decision to send him to bed, but it had already gone too far. He was trying excuses - Missy Woo woke him early (not that much), the alarm clock on the landing ticks too loudly (never mentioned that one before) and so on. But it was too late. I said goodnight to him and gratefully shut the door. He was asleep before 6.

It was less than 90 minutes, but it felt interminable. I just wanted to go and cry at the end of it. Thankfully, Missy Woo had been an angel through the whole process and after, went and sat in the kitchen playing with play dough whilst I sat down and vented on the phone to a friend, before coming to sit with me and give me a big cuddle.

At the end of it all, I just felt drained. When his tantrums happen, they're exhausting and it spoils what should be a nice time for us together as a family. (He did it once when we went out for Missy Woo's tea). Some of it is down to tiredness, but not all of it. Some of it is down to hunger but again, it doesn't excuse it. He gets sanctions, so it's not like he gets away with these episodes. He's so good at school, that if I mention his tantrums to the teachers, they honestly don't recognise the child I'm talking about. I know it's because he's more comfortable with testing us than anyone else, but it doesn't make it easier. And I have another child to consider, who kind of gets sidelined when it happens - although I'm pretty sure she understands that she is better off being good and helpful when he's like it. 

So, I ask you - does your child have tantrums like this? How do you cope if you do? How do you deal with your child in these situations? 

I find it exhausting, draining, highly emotional and dispiriting. I love my children dearly but this just makes me feel like the worst mother in the world.

And to all the lovely people who sent me messages of Twitter love, hugs and support, thank you. The internet is a truly great place when you're feeling very lonely and need a bit of a boost. There are way too many to mention, but you know who you are. Some really lovely people even went out of their way to make sure I was OK and I really appreciated that. You cheered me up and made me feel less lonely. For that alone, I love them to pieces. Thank you.

PS Monkey came out of school today to say that another of his friends found his car for him, so it can't have been where he said it was anyway. Grrr...... 
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