(archived from Feb. 26, 2013)
I made a breakthrough last night with our youngest, the only girl. I have to admit that this is the child with whom I struggle the most. She was four when I met my husband, and wow, could that girl throw a tantrum. I’d never seen anything like it… kicking, screaming, throwing herself on the floor in the middle of a store, or the gym, or wherever and whenever you least expected it.
Three years have passed and I can honestly say the tantrums have gotten less frequent, but the intensity is still full throttle. Last night, we worked thru a big one.
Our little girl was falling asleep in our bed so I asked my husband to take her to her room and tuck her in. Later when I got up to check on the boys I discovered that in order to keep her from crying, my husband had deposited her into one of the twin beds in her brother’s room. (Yes, we talked about his decision to give in to her tears later)
As I went to move the sweet sleeping child into her own room she woke up and was having none of it. The crying and protesting started. I tried to talk gently and rub her back, but she kept ramping up. I started to pray over her, prayers I say a lot on my own, asking God to calm her, give her peace and a gentle spirit. She started screaming “I want my Daddy” over and over and over until I finally had to leave the room and collect myself. Daddy was asleep and I really wanted to manage this without calling in backup. By now she’s also kicking and thrashing around and knocking all the covers off the bed.
I went into the living room and paced while praying for guidance. I did not want to lose my temper, but she was really pushing my buttons. In between calling for Daddy she told me that I didn’t love her and that she just wanted to give him a hug, and how could I keep her away from just saying goodnight to her daddy. Oh yes, she was totally playing me.
But somewhere in the middle of this repetitive tantrum I heard something new. She was scared. She is only with us every other weekend and oftentimes has a friend sleep over. All the boys’ rooms are upstairs and hers is downstairs near ours. Once I realized this tantrum was fear-based I had something to work with. I assured her that she is safe and loved. As I began to tell her how we pray for protection over our home and family, and how I love her and her daddy loves her and her heavenly father loves her, I saw her start to calm down and let go of the tantrum. I asked her if she’d like me to lie down and snuggle a while. She did. I held her close and rubbed her back and stroked her hair. I kissed the top of her head and assured her once again that she would always be safe in our home. She went right to sleep.
I celebrate this victory. Not because I “won” the battle, but because I saw the root and dealt with it rather than letting my emotions and anger blind me to the needs of this little girl.
Yes, she’s a handful. Between her mother’s family and ours she is the youngest of 8 siblings, some steps, some halves. Her world is confusing. The boundaries are not as strong as they should be. We will go head to head again. But I keep praying for her in every way I know how, and I’ll keep working to set loving boundaries. And just to love her. Her teenage years will be here all to soon. Lord help us!