I’ve never actually watched the Oprah Winfrey Show – I’m simply not interested – but it used to come on right before the local news so when I would turn on the TV to watch the news I would often catch the last half minute or so of Oprah. That was fine. It didn’t offend me or gross me out or anything and Oprah herself has always seemed like a pleasant enough person.
But now Dr. Phil comes on right before the news. I turned it on the other day and he was talking about little kids throwing temper tantrums in public and he was saying something about how you should let them know you’re listening, like, “I hear you and I understand that you want a candy bar,” and that will stop the tantrum. You know, that might work. For about five seconds but as soon he (or she, and that’s the last time I’m going to say that) figures out you’re not going to give him what he wants the screaming and tears will start again, even more intense than ever because you fooled him! You made him think you were giving in and then you said no, again!
I don’t know if Dr. Phil has any kids or not but I can tell from that little segment that I know more about kids than he does. I have two adult sons who are both employed, are pleasant to hang out with and, possibly most important, they no longer throw temper tantrums when they don’t get their way. So here’s what you need to know about kids.
Little kids will throw temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent no matter what people say or how many dirty looks you get. There’s nothing (in the short term) that you can do to stop it. You just have to live with it for a few years. If your child is still throwing temper tantrums at 7 or 8 that likely does mean you’re a bad parent. By that age he should be in the whining and pouting phase, which will last until he gets a job and starts buying his own stuff and perhaps a few years after that. The important thing to remember is that if you reward bad behavior the bad behavior will continue. Never buy a child something just to shut him up. If you do you are teaching him that tantrums work. Just endure the tantrum and ignore the dirty looks. (and Dr. Phil) This is what you signed on for when you decided to become a parent.
Yesterday I waited until about a minute after 5:00 to turn on the TV. Better to miss that first minute of the news when they’re just telling you what’s going to be on the news tonight than to see even five seconds of Dr. Phil. But (shock! horror!) Dr. Phil was on the local news! I don’t know why; I don’t know what he was talking about. My brain just froze into a “AAAARRGGGHHHH! It’s Dr. Phil” state and I didn’t even hear what he was saying.
So maybe I should wait until about 5:15 to turn on the TV. I’m really only interested in the weather anyway.