Flipping your lid, and what to do when others do

Lovely post on the painful ebb and flow of a tantrum. I especially like how she talks through her thinking, particularly the fun of having spectators and how one is tempted to give in to any requests during the tantrum (“I want to walk now!”), only to have it backfire.
Those of you who have taken our Positive Discipline class, remember “the brain in the palm of your hand” which we call “flipping our lids”?

You can only reconnect once the other person is calm, and back in their frontal lobe. Anything else just escalates the tantrum or teaches your child that everything is always negotiable, which has the potential of extending every tantrum.

The downside is, you will spend a lot of time, at first, picking your child up and carrying them home or moving away from the event to a quiet spot to wait them out. If the tantrum is about separation, you even have to just leave them at school or wherever. That is a bad feeling, but you can’t help your child feel good about your leaving by not leaving. Well, you can, but not if you don’t want to have your child be with you every minute until they are 16.

Eventually, they will have learned that there is no upside to the tantrum; this is a life long learning gift.

I recently had an adult tantrum (blush). I was feeling overwhelmed and helpless, and took it out on my husband. Fortunately, this is not his first rodeo, and we have talked through what to do when this happens. So he stopped what he was doing, and asked, calmly: “What can I do to help?” After I shouted a few ideas, I realized that there was nothing humanly possible that he could do, so I had to calm down. And I did. Then I apologized. Several times. He did not send me to my room alone or tell me to “be nice”, or threaten to take away my TV time. He also did not try to do any of my unhelpful suggestions. He stayed calm, waited me out and hugged me afterwards, and acted like I was not crazy. He didn’t rat me out to the kids, later, either.

My favorite adult tantrum story: #2 son and I got in a yelling match. He got tired of it and got in his car and drove away. Drove away, so unfair! So I called him and he answered, calmly, and I said: “Name, this is your mom!” “Hi mom”, he sighed. “Where are you?” “Boston.” “Boston??? Are you Name Name?” “No, I am Name Othername. Mom?” “Sorry, wrong Name. Call your mother!”


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