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Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Since Stardust turned 13 months old, I have noticed that he has developed a much more defined sense of self. This manifests itself in several different ways - he recognises his own reflection or picture, he can identify his own body parts as well as that of other people, he initiates games, obeys simple instructions...and he gets upset when he doesn't get his own way.

In the past week, he has had some difficulty balancing his will and his self control - that is, he has been throwing shocking wobblies. Great, big, red-faced wobblies with the clenching of fists and the loud open mouthed shouting.

"ARGH!" he says, with red-rimmed eyes blazing with anger, "AAAAAAAAAAAARGH!".

Fortunately, he seems to stop after shouting within a few seconds, usually because I've distracted him by directing his attention elsewhere. However, these episodes are getting more frequent and he is getting more difficult to distract. He has not yet gotten to the stage where he throws himself kicking and screaming onto the floor. I do not intend to allow him to progress this far.

Usually, he does have a reasonable excuse for having such a short fuse - he is too close to naptime or he is uncomfortable in a dirty nappy. Even so, I do not want him cultivating the habit of shouting or screaming in order to exert his will.

Additionally, I would like Stardust to display 'first time obedience'. I will not be that cattle auctioneer-type parent running around shouting "nononononono" or "comecomecomecomecome" whilst my kid is wandering around doing whatever he wants.

Last week, Stardust started having about 4-5 screaming fits a day. The worst one happened when I was at lunch with a friend, and he decided that he wanted to play with my utensils. Of course, the sharp metal fork and knife were placed out of his reach with a firm 'no' he had a good long yell in the middle of the restaurant. It was his worst episode ever. I was really shocked. It was horrible.

When I got home, I told MDH about what happened and after some discussion, we came to the conclusion that the word 'no' probably carries no weight with Stardust as disobedience appears to have no consequences. At his age, corporeal punishment probably will not make an impression, and encouragement to behave well seems to have a limited effect.

So, I am now enforcing the following rule: Disobedience is a sign of poor self-control. Children who have poor self control cannot be around polite society and will have to sit in their cot for 2 minutes to calm down. I am also making more of an effort to minimise situations where Stardust is likely to be disobedient or to throw a fit of temper.

Well, it has worked, even though I have had to be very strict with myself and enforce consistent punishment for even the smallest infraction (very hard to do, trust me). In the last 4 days, Stardust has not had a single tantrum. It's too early to celebrate, though! But it's a good sign.

He has occasionally loudly proclaimed his displeasure - but he limits it to one short burst of irritation. I don't mind him expressing himself, as long as he doesn't insist on getting his way all the time. He has to learn to deal with disappointment in a gracious manner.

Let's see how he progresses this week!


Anonymous Hamster said...

My son started with those tantrums when he was much much younger - about 6 months old - where he would scream loudly other than crying to register his displeasure. I had to spank him as we felt that he would respond to no other punishment. The first time I spanked him, the shock on his face along with the disbelief in his eyes made me cry even as he wailed his head off.

But it worked. :) He's quite well-behaved at 15 months, and I've not had a problem with him acting up in a restaurant. Simple distractions and talking sternly to him works sufficiently.

I think wife and I are very very blessed.

1:59 pm  
Blogger tscd said...

Hamster: Yeah, I'm blessed that Stardust hasn't started throwing tantrums until recently. Since I implemented more consistent discipline, he doesn't do any more screaming, but he will say one short 'EH!' and frown at me.

11:05 am  
Anonymous Hamster said...

Sounds cute. :D And very well behaved for a toddler!

12:04 pm  

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