Tantrums and The Digital Camcorder

April 7, 2008

Tuesday, Handsome (4 years old) had a major meltdown over not getting to play after his SEIT left. He, like most kids, is a creature of habit and this is the normal reward after sitting with his therapist.

This particular morning I had a few errands to run and told him he would get to play later but we had to go now.

After hearing this because I am speaking to someone else I guess, he tried to plug the game in and I said, “I told you that we have to leave and you will play later.” He tried again because he needs to test everything. I stopped him and said, if you do that again, I will take the plug away. He stopped and we left on our errands.

We came back and I asked if he wanted to play before or after his speech therapist. He said before. I told him that if he played now I would put the timer on and he had to stop when the timer went off. He said, “Ok.” I told him again to make sure he understood and he said “ok”.

When the timer went off (15 minutes before the therapist) I told him “ok, time to shut off the game.” He said, “No, I’m just playing.” (Like I am an idiot).

I told him “yes, I know you are but we agreed that when the timer went off you were to shut it off.”

He said, “no” and rushed at me with his two hands thrust out and pushed against my stomach. I will never understand why he thinks this is ok to do. I am not a hitter and I sometimes wonder if I need to knock him on his ass a few times.

I told him that I was unplugging the game because he didn’t listen and Speech was coming in a few minutes.

I walked over to pull the plug out and he rushed at me, hitting me with his open hands and crying. I took the plug and walked to the kitchen. He grabbed it and we fought over it for about 2 minutes. I grabbed for my video camera and started recording this fantastic display of preschool aggression.

While we had a tug of war over the plug, my 2  soon to be 3 year old asked questions like “mom, can I have some water? and “I want to watch something on TV.” Is she kidding me. I am holding the camera, street fighting my 4 year old and answering questions calmly.

We fought for about 15 minutes. I won (insert invisible cheering crowd) or have I?

Letting the therapist in, I told her what she had just heard through the closed door. I told her that I taped the tantrum and wanted to show it to him.

I taped the tantrum for a few reasons.

1- He works very well with visuals so I figured I could show him and explain to him what he should have done instead.

2- I could see if possibly I am not handling the situation well and this sets off the tantrum.

3- The therapists would be able to see what I am talking about and possibly offer some suggestions.

4- I could show this to him when his kid is turning 4 and let him know what to expect.

5- If I don’t like his fiance’ I could sit her down and let her know this behavior is hereditary.

Many, more reasons I am sure.

We watched the video together. He didn’t laugh or smile like he usually does when he watches himself on video. This time he was silent until his therapist asked what had happened. He didn’t look away from the video but he said, “I was upset.”

Then he said,

“you’ve got to calm down, you’ve got to calm down”

which is mostly what I was saying while this was going down.

Interestingly enough when I am dealing with a tantrum I go into total zen mode. I am more calm while dealing with him for as long as it takes, than I am in normal life. Thankfully, or I would be Andrea Yates drowning my kid in the tub.

I digress….

We have watched the video 5 times (he asks to see it) and I think recording it was the best thing I ever did. When we watch it together he holds my hands, kisses my arms and hands, hugs me throughout the 5 minute video while telling me “I’m sorry for hitting you mommy. I love you with all my heart.”

So, lesson here is always, always, always have the video camera charged and ready.


4 Responses to “Tantrums and The Digital Camcorder”

  1. domesticblister said

    I just stumbled upon your blog, and read this entry. The concept of taping a tantrum blew me away. Brilliant.
    I’ve got a kid on the Autism Spectrum, and I’m totally familar with the zen-mother tantrum mode, but it never would have occurred to me to tape it and show it to her. I bet it would really help her see what every one else sees when she loses it. Thank you for sharing that.

  2. mgagliano said

    You are welcome. You never know what is going to work so even it it works one time it is well worth it.

    Good luck and thanks for checking me out.

  3. Interesting idea. You might also be interested in a new book I have co-authored with Jennifer Brown called, “What Angry Kids Need: Parenting Your Angry Child Without Going Mad”. It is very practical, and includes ideas for self-care and co-parenting. Go to http://www.parentingpress.com for more information.

  4. Nicki said

    Wow, that was smart thinking to video tape his tantrum! Must have been very interesting for him to actually see his behavior. As for dealing with tantrums, I used to work with kids with mild autism who were infamous for having huge tantrums, and I know how it feels to go into zen mode, where some little munchkin is trying to beat the chaos out of you and you’re calmly saying, “I know you’re angry. Lets use our WORDS.” I wish I could get into that zen mode with my 4-year-old niece… I tend to snap at her more often than I should, like when she picks up her baby sister and shoves her in the dog cage, or steals her brother’s toys, or jumps on me while I’m trying to clean the house, or whatever…

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