My Kids Advance to Higher Level Tantrums

Generally speaking, Brontë and Bridget are much easier to manage now that they’re five and three. Gone are the days of three-hour fits and grocery store tantrums. Consistent refusal to reward bad behavior slowly winnowed them out.

Or of Brontë’s poop-mural experiments, which went on for months. Making her clean them up, by the way, was what finally did the trick.

Or of Bridget ruthlessly tackling the cat. We let the cat sort that one out himself.

We’ve finally moved on to more advanced kid skills, like not constantly interrupting people and getting through meals like civilized people. Occasionally, they’ll try snotty attitudes on for size, experimenting with the social ramifications, or check to see how much leverage they’ll get from being tragic.

Like the other day, when Bridget fell into some gravel and scraped her knee.  Viking that she is, she handled it by punching everything around her, including the air, which made her fall over and over again, growing ever angrier.

I raced over to help her with her bloody leg and she responded by boxing my legs like a violent leprechaun. This didn’t go over very well, because mommy is not a punching-bag. Even if you’re sick or injured.

Which pretty much set off a cascade of bad behavior for the next few hours, during which time her sister Brontë was the perfect, model child: holding mommy’s hand, cheerfully doing everything she was supposed to, and giving heart-melting monologues about how much she loves her family.

Because I don’t know if this is typical, but my kids like to take turns acting out. I think that one of them acting like a hooligan gives the other the perfect opportunity to look angelic by comparison, and they relish the opportunity to rub their good behavior and all of its associated privileges in their sister’s face.

This smiling cherub would NEVER act like that. 

But, growing bored with their good cop/bad cop routine, they changed places yesterday. While Bridget was snuggling mommy and bringing her flowers, Brontë was accidentally spilling huge glasses of chocolate milk and then later wouldn’t shut up about the “giant turd she’d been wrestling” during lunch because Brontë has picked up that mommy’s weakness is finding your bad behavior hilarious.

Yesterday was the day when Brontë forgot how to put on shoes, after years of doing it correctly, and suddenly found the request outrageous. She wouldn’t quit pushing around her sister either, grabbing toys out of her hands on account of her possessing such a “stinky butt,” which probably made sense to her wound-up toddler brain.

At any rate, it all culminated in last night’s dinner episode. Bridget was quietly eating her taco while Brontë somehow hovered in a blur about the air pockets around her seat as my husband and I desperately tried to have a conversation:

John: So then I went to the manager meeting, and


John: I went to the managers’ meeting where they were talking about…


Me: Stop interrupting, Brontë. Wait until your dad finishes what he’s saying.

Brontë keeps jabbering on for the next few minutes while John and I try ignoring her until it stops. Bridget keeps eating her taco, watching the whole thing play out. Finally, John looks over…

John: Okay, Brontë. What were you saying?


John: Not tonight, because you’re going to bed on time. Maybe this weekend we can go swimming when it’s dark outside.

Brontë (stomping away): I’m EXCUSED!

John: Come BACK here and sit down. We didn’t excuse you.

Brontë (making a face): HMPH!

John: Go to your room.

Brontë screams down the hallway before slamming the door. The room gets quiet. Bridget takes another bite of taco, her tiny legs swinging under her chair.

Bridget: Psh… Brontë childish.







19 thoughts on “My Kids Advance to Higher Level Tantrums

  1. The good kid/bad kid thing is very familiar, but not as a parent, since we only have our daughter, Grace. But I had an older sister that was two years older than me, and I’m pretty sure that when she was being a problem, I’d milk that for all it was worth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I have the reverse situation here. John and I were both only children who had two kids and are getting a crash course in sibling dynamics. But yeah, it’s totally what they do! I’m really happy whenever BOTH kids are being good.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Aw, it’s mostly good now. They’re good kids, lots easier than they were a year ago. I focus on the crazy stuff because it’s more entertaining than quiet days where everyone is calm… but there are still THOSE days where I could use a break, haha.

          I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  2. OH my god I so know this! My daughter has such an attitude problem sometimes it takes all my will power to not get into a power struggle with her. It’s one bad event which just turns into a downward spiral of a whole afternoon of forceful crying, drama and sass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be SO frustrating, right? The experts seem to think kids only have 5-minute attention spans, too. I feel like there’s a lot of advice about what NOT to do, but little on how to handle tantrums properly.

      My theory is that kids are little scientists always figuring out how the world works. When they’re babies, it’s “what happens if I throw this plate or take this box apart?”

      Then as little kids, it’s “what happens if I WON’T wear shoes?” Lol. One thing that has been working for me lately is having consequences without getting into the power struggle, as you mentioned. For example, “Okay, you can either put on your shoes and we can go next door to play with your friends or we can sit here until you’re done being angry.” (Then sit quietly, drinking my coffee for the next half hour as the child stomps and screams before she puts on her shoes and we go next door without incident).

      Argh, it takes patience, though. We’ll get past this stage!


      1. Yes I’ve tried that thing but I have so little patience for it! I am just like why is this 2 second thing taking us half an hour!! Why? Why?? And it just ruins the whole feel of things for an entire day. I just wish kids came prepackaged with logic and reason. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh, I know, I so know… I think the patience part of parenting is hard to imagine before having kids. Just how long it can take to do the simplest things, or how much time it eats to get through a tantrum because you don’t want to appease the kid and reward the tantrum and end up having to find the right color sippy-cup for the rest of your life, lol.

          I’m finding they get much more reasonable by age 4, but that might just be me.


            1. I don’t want to jinx you, but I bet you’ll be finding it easier. Both of my daughters were really tough toddlers that started getting easier at 3. My older daughter is 5 now, and I don’t have many rough days with her anymore.

              The younger is 3 and getting easier every week. Plus, I know how much easier her sister became, so I’m less worried this time, lol


    1. Haha, thanks! They have a few swimsuits, but always pick these because they want to be twins. They really do love each other yet still compete… must be the sister thing you’re talking about 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I think only my daughter knows what’s like to be Queen of the Jellyfish. She has declared me the Moon Queen, however, with the power to “banish walls with my mind,” which is pretty cool.

      And thank you! My husband and I were both only children, so we’re learning about sibling dynamics on the fly. This weird tendency to take turns being the naughty kid is such a strong pattern, we almost want to hire some other kid to hang around and act out, lol


  3. That conversation was a lot clearer than the one my wife and I had the other day. It seemed like we didn’t hear a thing each other said even with no interruptions to blame – of course we HEARD each other…but we didn’t LISTEN to each other. I’m an only child…but my wife is the middle of three children and she confirms the good cop/bad cop routine plays out often. We don’t have kids but from what I’ve seen of other families at dinner lately it sounds like you have things well under control…even if there is an unscheduled midnight swim with the pool light on in the days ahead!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, I sort of get where you’re coming from as an only child. My husband and I were both only children who decided to have two kids, meaning that we’re now learning about sibling dynamics on the fly.

      It’s been a whole new world of issues for us: how to teach the older kid to share while keeping the younger kid from breaking all the older kid’s toys, how to deal with the older kid’s sense of unfairly having to do more when the younger kid isn’t able to pick up as well, trying to make sure they both get enough attention…

      They definitely love each other, but there’s an unmistakable rivalry too. It can come in handy though, like when you praise one kid for putting on her shoes and the other one scrambles to get it right instead of refusing to wear them. I’m trying hard not to overstep the line and create more rivalry.

      Ha, a midnight swim actually sounds great–if it weren’t for all our responsibilities, which kids don’t entirely grasp. My kids have figured out that mom is likely to go for stuff like that, but they can’t throw fits when it’s not possible. We also find ourselves being stricter than many other parents about things like leaving the table or interrupting or whatnot.

      But I feel it does kids a disservice not to train them how to behave, because people won’t like them if they’re racing around restaurants screaming or being obnoxious, you know? Most people seem not to mind having our kids around, so I figure they’re doing alright.

      Liked by 1 person

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