Sunday, February 17, 2013

You Can't Always Get What you Want

Remember that Rolling Stones song?  It pops into my head at least once a day when dealing with a child who is heartbroken over the fact that I chose white socks instead of the ones with the raccoon or when I picked apples rather than strawberries at snack time.  I do my best to include them on some decision making but, when I least expect it, something small becomes vital to their existence.

My youngest is just starting to voice his opinion on matters.  This usually involves screaming.  Blood curdling screams that turn his entire face red then blue with exertion.  My latest Babycenter email said, "Your toddler may begin expressing his emotions.  He will need guidance as to the most appropriate ways to display them."  Thank you, Babycenter.  Right on target again.  They went on to suggest that you put a word to the emotion and acknowledge their feelings.  "I understand that you are mad because XYZ," for example.  Then tell them the right thing to do.  "When you are mad, tell me what you need and we will work together to figure it out."  Miraculously, those parenting experts are right on track.

Today he started screaming because he wanted to continue playing in the water instead of getting his diaper changed.  I can't say I blame him. I picked him up and said, "It seems like you are mad because you want to keep playing in the water.  Is that right?"  He replied, "MAD!!  WAWA!" as he hiccuped through the last of his tantrum.  "OK.  We will play in the water again as soon as your diaper is changed.  Next time, tell Mommy what you need instead of screaming."  We hugged and his temper tantrum disappeared as fast as it had started.

It will take a long time for him to trust that words are more effective than screams but I know from experience that time is the the secret to fixing most things.  He needs to learn to handle his emotions.  He needs to learn that, sometimes, he has to wait for what he wants.  Don't we all?  Emotions are powerful and they can get the best of any of us.  But if I am to do my job well, my sons will know that they can't always get what they want.  Because as Mick Jagger so aptly puts it, "No you can't always get what you want.  But if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need."

How do you help your children when their emotions spin out of control?  How do you teach them that sometimes they just have to wait?

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