Two parents. Two educated, intelligent, common-sense-having parents. In a matter of minutes they are transformed from knowing a thing or two about life and encompassing the ability to problem solve, into two bumbling fools without a clue about how to handle the antics of a toddler.
Last night was the worst tantrum to date. I'm starting to wonder when we will have a peaceful dinner again. We put Baby Boy's dinner in front of him, it consisted of a turkey hot dog, some cheese, and some rice with black beans and peas. All things that he has eaten and loved in the past. The hot dog and cheese are always the first things to go. Once they are gone he does his sign for "more" and "please" even though he still has a plate of food in front of him. He does not want his rice, beans or peas, all he wants is hot dog and cheese. So we explain to him that he can't have more until he eats some of the other stuff. This evokes a tantrum. He throws his sippy on the floor, he shakes his head and flings his arms around when offered the remaining food on his plate.
At this point Hubby and I aren't in full desperation mode we simply begin trying different tactics. I think maybe he doesn't like a spoonful of rice, beans and peas. Maybe he would prefer his foods to be separate. So I separate some peas off to the side and miraculously he eats a couple! Did I just crack the code??? Is the tantrum over??? Nope. That was just a blip to tease his 'ole ma. The crying got worse and at this point there was no calming him down. So... we put him in his crib, shut the door and let him cry it out for a solid 45 minutes.
Some of you may be thinking, "what's the big deal?" "The kid likes hot dogs and cheese so give him more hot dogs and cheese." "He will be happy and you can get on with dinner!" I hear ya, but if we do that what are we really teaching him? I don't care that he is only 14 months old, he is smart enough to know what it takes to get a rise out of mom and dad and what it takes to get his way. We can't cater to his every whimper. He needs vegetables and he needs to eat what we have in front of him for dinner. We are not going to make him multiple items in one night until we find the one he likes. He needs to learn the "house rules." Know what I mean? At least that is what we are attempting to do. My explanation may sound like we are hard asses and our approach of letting him cry it out may seem a bit rough but overall it was what Hubby and I decided was best.
The truth is, although we decided it was the best thing to do we still have no clue if we are doing any of it right. Did we handle it correctly? Is there something else we could have done to accomplish the same thing? It wasn't easy. Of course as my son is screaming his head off because he is upset I instinctively want to "make it better." I WANT to give him hot dogs and cheese. I WANT him to be happy. But my husband helps me to see that in the long run I'm really NOT helping him by always giving him what he wants. I definitely had tears in my eyes as he cried for 45 minutes straight. That was just as hard on us as it probably was for Baby Boy. Hubby and I are also trying to get on the same page when it comes to disciplining. We both want the same end result but there are times when we both think there is a better way to get there. Or what's worse is when one or both of us has no clue. The blind leading the blind. But thankfully we always talk through it and find a common ground that works for us both. (Thanks for that Hubs. I love you.)
We all survived last night's tantrum. Baby Boy finally calmed down and when he did he was put back in his high chair and he was given the rest of his hot dog only because he was no longer throwing a fit. (sigh) Now if only I can track down the "How to be a Perfect Parent Manual." It is out there somewhere, isn't it???