Sunday, April 26, 2009

tantrum awareness

Last night we'd finished the arduous brushing of teeth before bed and I was trying to get Frances to focus on which books she'd like to read when she started asking for juice. It was a delay tactic--I'm familiar with them. Bedtime in general is one exercise in delay tactics after another, and a test at how savvy mom and dad are about heading them off. The rule is water only after brushing teeth, as she knows, but she was insistent about juice and off she went down the stairs. I came down after her and got her a cup of water and that's when she fell apart. So I picked her up, screaming, and carried her and the cup of water back upstairs. When we were in her room I sat her on my lap and she finally calmed down and drank the water and said, "why I so upset, Mommy?" "You wanted juice," I said. "Oh yeah, but why so upset?" It must be really confusing for her to have her emotions get so out of control. She even talks about times in the past--a couple of days ago we were talking about one particular babysitter we haven't seen in awhile and she remembered when the sitter was here and Frances cried for mommy mommy mommy. This was last FALL when she was in full tantrum mode. She said to me, "I wanted YOU, Mommy. But why I get so upset?"

(I thought I posted about this issue before, about her awareness and confusion about her tantrums, but I just scanned previous posts and couldn't find anything...)

A couple of weeks ago she had a COMPLETE meltdown at a neighbor's when it was time to go home. She was having so much fun that she was simply overcome with emotion and could not get it together at all when I said it was time to go. The neighbor is six and has headbands and strawberry shortcake dolls and Frances' joy about it all was palpable. We were downstairs by the front door trying to get on shoes and coats and she was screaming. Huge tears. I had Clark and snacks and diapers so I couldn't simply pick her up and walk out the door. I finally wrestled her coat on her but she flung it off and would not let me put her shoes on. She was screaming "paci! paci! paci!" and I kept telling her that she could have her paci at home, we didn't have one there, but to get to her paci she needed to put on her shoes. She was leaning up against the wall and finally I put my hands on the wall on either side of her and got her to look at me. I said, "I'm trying to help you. I know you're really upset.You can have your paci at home but to go outside you need to put your shoes on because it's cold and the ground will hurt your feet if you don't have shoes." Now, maybe the tantrum was just wearing itself out, but I don't think so. I think my telling her I was trying to help got her attention. I said again, "You're really upset, aren't you?" and she said--in the middle of the tantrum--"Why? Why I so upset?" Fascinating.

Sometimes I wonder that about myself when I get really worked up. Mitch just likes to point out that she is my daughter. It's probably true.

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