Ever notice how a tantrum resembles the five stages of grief? Well, let me demonstrate....
Today, Aiden, Aubrey and I went to Walmart for a few items. I'm talking maybe 15 items--a very short list. We went down the party aisle, where I was looking at some paper plates and plasticware for an upcoming party, when Aiden notices the Silly String on the shelf. Aiden immediately asked if he could have some for Daddy's birthday party. I explained that Silly String is a treat and that only little boys who behave and listen to their Mommies get treats. I told him that since he hadn't been listening to me so far in the store, the answer was no, but that if he were to behave throughout the rest of our shopping trip, then I would come back and he could pick out a can. (No, I am not above bribery).
We walk 15 feet down the aisle, and Aiden asks me, "I'm being good--now can I have silly string?"
"No, Aiden--and if you keep asking, then the answer will continue to be no. You can't keep asking. You have to stay right next to the cart, listen to Mommy, and not run off in order to get silly string. If you do those things, then we'll get some right before we pay--but I'm not discussing it again until then."
Well, he kept asking. And begging. And hounding, and pleading, and wheedling, and cajoling. Then he decided that being good was too much work, and he began running off from me, shoving the cart into the shelf as I pushed it, hiding in clothing racks as we walked by, and generally acting like a complete brat. I finished my shopping, then announced that it was time to go pay.
"Can I get silly string now?" he asks.
"Nope. You ran from me, you shoved the cart, you didn't listen, and you kept asking about silly string. That is not the way we behave in the store. So, no silly string." I reply.
Let the tantrum begin!
Stage 1: Denial and Isolation
"But you said I could get it! You said! I was good! I was a good boy!" He crumples into tears, crosses his arms over his chest, walks about 20 feet away and turns his back on me to wail in despair.
Stage 2: Anger
Screaming, red in the face, "It ISN'T FAIR!! I WANT SILLY STRING! YOU HAVE TO GET IT FOR ME! I DON'T LIKE YOU! YOU'RE MEAN, MOMMY!"
Stage 3: Bargaining
"But Mommy, it isn't for me! I want to buy it for Daddy! For his birthday/Father's Day/ Christmas." (Aiden went through a whole slew of holidays)
"Mommy, next time we go to a store with silly string, you'll buy it for me? Right? Tomorrow we can go back and I'll get it, OK?"
Stage 4: Depression
"Mommy, you made me sad. I wish I was at work with Daddy. I miss Daddy."
Stage 5: Acceptance
"Mommy, don't tell Daddy I got in trouble, OK?"