What if you talked about your urge to pee, and people around you told you to ignore it? What if the people who declared themselves "bladder experts," based on the fact that they have one of their own, told you you shouldn't have to get up to pee at night? Or that if you pee exactly six times per day while awake, at regular increments, it should take care of your night urges?
A tip in Bladder magazine might look like this:
The best way to tackle an urge is to ignore it, Dr. Expert says. "When your urge pops up, the purpose is for your bladder to get attention and to exert authority over you. And if the urge has worked in the past, your body will continue to use urges to alert you to needs in the future." Dr. Expert's suggestion is to... totally ignore the urge, and move on with whatever else you were doing. Nine times out of 10, your urge will go away. If you're in public, don't be so worried about what other people will think -- this is about nipping this bad behavior in the bud.This sounds ridiculous, right? We all know the only way to make the urge go away is to relieve ourselves. To take care of the need. Ignoring it does not make it go away, it only intensifies the need. You are the only one who has your bladder. You know when you need to go. When you feel the urge, you find a way to take care of it.
What does this have to do with parenting? There are lots of people offering parents advice to ignore our children when they are "throwing tantrums." But think of your child's "throwing a tantrum" as his way of communicating a need to you, just like your bladder communicates the urge to pee.
Parenting experts don't know what your child needs, just like they don't know how often or when you should have to pee.
Your child doesn't always know how explain it exactly, but his "throwing a tantrum" is his attempt to alert you that he needs something. It is not a malicious attempt to embarrass you or manipulate you. It's up to you to help figure out what the need is. Is he hungry? Tired? Overwhelmed? Does he need to go to the bathroom? Does he just need a hug or some of your undivided attention? Are you asking him to do something unreasonable?
Sometimes dealing with a "tantrum" (I hate that word) involves removing yourself and your child from a public place, and finding a better space for you to communicate together. But resolving the need that is causing the "behavior" is a much better idea than pretending the need doesn't exist. Just think about how it usually goes when you try to ignore the urge to pee.
This is the original quote from Parents magazine that I modified above:
The best way to tackle a tantrum is to ignore it, Dr. Leman says. "When your child is throwing a tantrum, the purpose is to get attention and to exert authority over you. And if throwing tantrums has worked in the past, your child will continue to throw them in the future." Dr. Leman's suggestion is to step over the child, totally ignore the behavior, and move on with whatever else you were doing. Nine times out of 10, your child will get up and follow you. If you're in public, don't be so worried about what other people will think -- this is about nipping this bad behavior in the bud.
I wonder what happens on the "one time out of 10" when your child doesn't get up and follow you...