My Tiny Terror
Written by: Trisha Moser
My child is a terrorist. You heard me; a terrorist. She’s not targeting our country or anything like that; she’s simply targeting our family. She loves to scrunch up that tiny face, hold her breath, and let the tantrum rain down. She really loves a good scream.
You might think that “terrorist” is a strong word, but as my older sister so wisely stated to her son, “You are not allowed to terrorize this family.” Initially, I laughed at her statement, but the more I thought about it I realized that this is the most accurate description of a toddler that is allowed to run his family.
Terrorism is essentially using power and intimidation to get what you want. A nicer name for it is bullying, but when you’re in the middle of the battlefield, it feels like terrorism.
So how do we keep our tiny humans from running the house and essentially terrorizing us all? The answer is simple: BE CONSISTENT. I know, that seems too easy. Trust me, it’s not.
When my oldest was about 18 months old, he found the power of the tantrum. The force was strong with that one. He would scream, bash his head into the wall, and throw up at me. That’s right, AT ME. I could often be found just sitting on the couch and watching him go.
One day my dad observed what was happening, and he simply leaned over and whispered to me, “Win.” Oh yes, that simple word empowered me. Up I arose from my perch, ready to enter the battle, but then had to turn back and ask my dad, “How?” That was when he bestowed this wisdom upon me.
“Trish, it doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you choose a way to discipline him. But no matter what, always win.” From that day on, I won EVERY BATTLE…except one.
The one battle that I gave in made each battle after that more difficult. Once he figured out that he could wear me down, it just made things harder the next time! I didn’t make that mistake twice!
My husband and I tried a lot of different tactics after that, but the thing that worked best for that little man was to put him in his crib and give him a minute to calm down. We would check on him every few minutes, but he knew that he was not coming out until he cooled his jets. As he got older, we had to figure out what was going to work all over again, and we found out that the threat of having to wear jeans instead of sweatpants was his best motivator. Strange…but effective.
My second born, our Sunshine Girl, needed to simply be removed to the next room. It got to the point that if we said, “Go to the kitchen until you feel better,” she would just go. She would eventually come back to us and say, “I’m happy,” and life would go on. Some good friends of ours observed this one day, and when I came back from checking on her he was laughing.
“I can’t believe you banish your kids,” he laughed. I quickly informed him that this was not banishment…and then realized it kind of was. I was putting my tiny terrorist in a place where she could not control the environment of the whole family. Again, I won.
My third child, our youngest daughter, is a mighty warrior. She has a loud war cry and an iron will. But little does she know, we are stronger and more seasoned in the art of the war! She screams, kicks, throws things, spits at us, and does every other thing that little kids do. We tried putting her in her room, we “banished” her, we took away her favorite toys, but nothing seemed to work. But then I found the key to our victories with her.
Early bedtime. Not only does she hate going to bed early, but we get to sit down and relax sooner! This is definitely a win for everyone! DING DING DING! WINNER!
Like I said, it doesn’t matter which strategy you pick so much as long as you choose one. Each of our little rebels required different strategies, but each of them are better for it. I hear over and over again, “Your kids are so polite and respectful!” I tell people, “We disciplined it into them.” It’s not fun, but we aren’t called to be our kids’ friends. We are called to be their parents; to shape and mold them into parents and husbands and wives who will contribute to society one day, and not manipulate it. Winning is so worth it!
We still have battles throughout the week, and our approach to the battles have changed and developed as our kids have gotten older, but we still win. We get weary and we get tired, but it is still worth it. Even if this battle seems like it doesn’t matter, WIN. If you say ‘no’ but your kid pressures you to say ‘yes,’ WIN. Whisper it to yourself; WIN. Let’s all WIN today, because these tiny humans are going to turn into parents one day, and then we will tell them to WIN. It’s time. Arise from your perch and charge into battle!
Hebrews 12:1b NIV
And let us run with endurance the race marked out for us.
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