Tried & Tested Parenting Approaches For Tantrums! *fail*

Thank goodness I don’t embarrass easily, because I would surely have died of embarrassment yesterday! My family are up for the long weekend and Ava has been in her element having both her Grangy, her Pa and her Uncle here all at the same time.

Unfortunately, she has also come down with yet another round of tonsillitis so she’s been a real grump over the last few days.

Yesterday as an outing for us all, we headed off to the Lion Park to feed the giraffe’s, play with the lion cubs and have some lunch. It was a gorgeous day in Jozi, as only autumn in Jozi can be, hot and clear. After we’d finished feeding ourselves and the giraffe’s and playing with the lion cubs, we headed back out through the curio shop on our way out to the car park and then home. Ava was showing signs of tiredness but I could NEVER have imagined what would happen next.

Ava & Her Uncle

Clearly the curio shop is for international tourists as the pricing of most of their stuff is just exorbitant!  Unfortunately Ava spotted the biggest lion cuddly toy on the pile and immediately grabbed it shouting “My Big Lion, My Big Lion!” It was in that instant moment that I just knew I was in big trouble!

I tried distracting her with a cheap plastic lion because quite honestly, there was no way in hell I was

  1. Going to bow to her every whim
  2. Spend R598 on a soft toy!

But she was having none of the crappy plastic lion. I tried distracting her with the cute kiddies cutlery, the ones with brightly colored animals on the handles but she was not in the least bit interested in that either and just kept clinging to the giant, ridiculously priced, fluffy lion!

After trying to get her to put the giant, ridiculously priced, fluffy lion down by offering her

  1. A soda
  2. Jelly tots
  3. a plastic lion
  4. animal cutlery
  5. a cheetah puppet

I knew there was nothing left to do except yank the giant, ridiculously priced, fluffy lion out of her arms and take her by the hand and leave the curio shop, what I hadn’t counted on was how something could sound so simple in plan and yet be so impossible in execution.

From the second my hand curled around the giant, ridiculously priced, fluffy lion, Ava started screaming – “mine mine mine mine”

Once I had wrestled the lion from her grip and dumped it back on top of the pile of giant, ridiculously priced, fluffy lions, she started to do THE CRY! The one where her mouth gapes open, her face goes shades of red, purple and blue, tears stream from her eyes and no sound comes out but you know as soon as she runs out of breath she’s going to start scream crying so loud your ears are going to ring!

But I try to remain calm, I take her by the hand to lead her out of the curio store, which is at the exact moment she runs out of breath and her silent-mouth-gaping-wail turns into full bodied scream crying. I’ve also noticed that the scream cry almost always coincides with her sudden inability to control her limbs and walk. So as soon as the scream cry starts, she automatically collapses in a heap on the floor.

No problem I think, I’ve got this, I’m in control here, I’m going to just walk away and leave her, after all I’m sure that if she see’s me walking away, she’ll get up and follow me?? Right??


As soon as she noticed I had walked away, she showed me the depth of her determination and also a figurative middle finger. Instead of crying because her mommy had left her, or wailing for her mommy to come back, or jumping up and running after me, Missy would simply get up, and run back to the pile of giant, ridiculously priced, fluffy lions.

Take 2.

No distractions because now my patience is wearing thin and seriously, people are starting to stare. The childless couples with that all knowing look how their future children will never behave that way, the elder couples, with smiles of sympathy because they’ve been there and done that and couples with kids of a similar age, who were openly laughing, at me, with me, cos you know, seeing a child behave in this appalling manner means that we’re ok, that our children are not abnormal for behaving the same way!

So take 2, I decide I’m going to use a less subtle and more direct approach. I walk over to Missy, tell her she is NOT getting the giant, ridiculously prices, fluffy lion, yank it out of her arms and chuck it back on top of the pile of giant, ridiculously priced, fluffy lions, grab her by the hand and start marching off.

Well, I use the term – marching loosely. It was more a tripping, stumbling motion I made as Missy’s legs had once again given away and she was dangling from one arm between my legs. But I persevere! And we make it to the exit of the curio shop!

I take us out of everyone’s view and try to Super Nanny the tantrum! Get down to her level, hold her firmly by both arms, explain to her that her behavior is unacceptable and she is being very naughty but before I am even finished with my neat little Super Nanny lecture, she has yanked her arms free and is charging at full speed back into the curio shop, running just fast enough so that I can keep up, but each time I lunge forward to grab her arm, she speeds up ever so slightly so as just to always stay one step ahead of me.

By now, the shop is at a stand still, people are staring open-mouthed at the scene unfolding in front of them, I’m now super aware of the know-it-all-childless couples looks, the sympathetic smirks of grandparents and of course I can now hear the couples of toddlers openly having a giggle at my expense and within seconds Missy has the farking overpriced, gigantic, fluffy lion back in her grip.

If I weren’t so bloody determined to prove a point to my child that she cannot and will not always have her own way, I swear I would have bought that farking overpriced, gigantic, fluffy lion just so we could get out of there!

By this stage Ava’s face is soaked with tears and she has a doughnut face all shiny and glistening from the snot which is pouring out her nose and into her mouth, some of which has been smeared across her face, not to mention the snot blotches that cover my shirt (her snot, not mine) It’s as hot as hell and my hair is now plastered to my head from sweat after the exertion of chasing after Missy.

Take 3.

Dr Phil says there are some battles as parents we just always have to win. I feel this is one of them! I unceremoniously rip the farking, overpriced, fluffy lion out from under Ava’s arms and before she can even catch her breath or have her legs buckle underneath her, I yank her up into my arms and start to carry her out of the shop.

It’s at this point she decides to start running, in the air! So I’m carrying my handbag, my camera bag and my toddler who’s arms and legs are thrashing about as if she’s in the final stages of a 100m dash, I’m sweating like a stuffed pig, the sweat is visibly running down my back, my family and my husband have scattered from the shame, none of them wanted to be associated with the crazy sweaty lady who’s toddler is under going an exorcism right there in the curio shop!

But I don’t care, I keep walking, even though I”m getting hit in the face from the thrashing arms and kicked in the leg by the thrashing legs, I keep going, till we get out in the car pack.

It’s then that I decide to implement parenting 101 circa 1980, I get us between a couple of cars, where no one can see us, take a deep breath, calm myself down, think screw you Super Nanny and then proceed to dish out two firm swots on the backside of my still 100m dashing toddler!

Amazingly, this calms her down instantly! She is still crying and she is still very very angry but suddenly her ability to walk unaided returns and she manages to do the rest of the walk back to the car, by herself without further incident.

Of course, I don’t think we’ll be visiting the Lion Park soon, not until such time as they either reprice those farking fluffy lions or move them out of the grasp of passing two year olds.

We made the drive home in silence, me mopping up sweat from my hair and brow, Ava promptly passed out and slept for 3 hours clearly exhausted from her tantrum and all I kept thinking was Thank God I don’t embarrass easily!

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  • Reply Jenny

    OMG I am laughing out loud. You poor thing. I bet the overpriced lion was full of snot too! ha hahahah thanks for the warning (scratches lion park off list of things to do with Evan). PS: you DO know it’s because she wasn’t breastfed? mwhaahahahahah

    April 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Of course! It’s totally because she wasn’t breastfed, has been allowed to watch TV because she’s adopted so I’m not a “real” mother! I SOOO get that! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

      April 30, 2012 at 1:31 pm
  • Reply Julia

    Sjoe. This sounded soooooo familiar. When we are home I take child 2 to his room and I tell him that he’s welcome to express his emotions there i.e. AWAY from us. IT works a treat – he sees that we are not entertaining him and miraculously calms down. However, in public places we are SCREWED! In some instances we can leave, other times we can’t. My DH does the occasional smack away from everyone and as much as I HATE that, I have to admit that it does work. Sorry parenting police and super nanny.

    April 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm
  • Reply alovebeyondmeasure

    Oh no! Well I think that was well handled. Jeepers I am not looking forward to temper tantrums.

    April 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm
  • Reply ludditelass

    OMW that is hysterical! I sooooo relate! My tantrumer is three and very verbal so along with the blood-curdling screams and the wriggling octopus impression on the floor he also informs me when I try to pick him up (and everyone else who is gawking at this freak side-show in horror/amusement): “Mummy, stop it, you’re breaking my arms! Stop breaking my body!” It takes all my self-control to wipe the sweat from my brow and calmly ask “Are you finished yet?”

    LOL I think not embarassing easily should be one of the criteria to see if you are suitable to adopt. Just as well I pass that with flying colours. Witness the fact that despite my tantrumer having two spectacular tantrums at our local shop, it is still our local. Everyone knows us there either by name or reputation. The stuff that memories and even local legends are made of!

    April 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm
  • Reply suestuart

    Oh my word that’s so funny, only because I have a 2 year old and can so understand! Sometimes only a smack and telling Katy she is being naughty is the only things that work. At the moment, Katy hates being called naughty, hope it continues to work for a long time to come!

    April 30, 2012 at 1:58 pm
  • Reply Taryn

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. Not only did your story have me rolling on the floor with laughter but after the past 2 weeks of sudden non stop tantrum here, its so nice to hear that we are normal. We have also tried all the theories. Alas none have worked for us either. Just chatted to a friend of mine with the same situation. We have decided to start a support group ;).

    April 30, 2012 at 2:25 pm
  • Reply Melinda

    Cracked myself laughing…the will power of these little ones is something to be reckoned with….

    April 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm
  • Reply Fabulous Mommy

    Oh goodness. This may be the best parenting post I have ever read.

    Oh the farking lion….ha ha ha! My twins are only 6 months old but I know at some point this will happen to us…in stereo. Well done for not buying the lion.

    I am a child of circa 1980s parenting and I think a smack isn’t as evil as the Super Nannies and Dr Phils would have us believe. sometimes a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm
  • Reply blackhuff

    I hate the tantrums – sounds so familiar. I usually just pick up my child, walk far away from everyone and let him/her cry it out until they want to hear reason.
    And yes, that curio shop is ridiculous with their prices.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm
  • Reply Kathy

    Oh hilarious!! I’m the ‘childless couple’ response… 😉

    And well done for not buying Ava that overpriced farking lion!

    April 30, 2012 at 7:22 pm
  • Reply Gina

    Oh my. Been there done that.
    Well done! I think you handled that superbly.
    Also, I think your family deserves to be covered in snot for abandoning you 😉 Kidding… maybe…

    April 30, 2012 at 8:59 pm
  • Reply Pandora

    My child would NEVER do that…only because I won’t be taking her to the lion park!
    Seriously though, I can so relate, and laugh, now after the fact. My worst was at a flea market because we did not want to get off the swing. Daddy suddenly ‘remembered’ that he still wanted to buy something, so I had to carry her back to the car alone. I was kicked, scratched and smacked and I am sure I lost a few clumps of hair. I managed to strap her in the car seat, because by that time I think she was running out of power, and she just fell asleep immediately.
    Really, what else can you do?? None of the tricks work at that point, it is like they are beyond hearing a seeing. .

    April 30, 2012 at 9:48 pm
  • Reply Jenty

    Bwahaha I’ve done that… in Woolies 🙂 drives me bananas. I’ve been known to leave full trolleys in the shop and carry Connor out kicking and screaming with EVERYONE watching me accusingly.

    April 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm
  • Reply merphin

    Well done – those are hard Mummy moments and you did great!! Mr5 STILL does that at times, but he is TOO tall to carry so I have been known to stop and sit in the middle of the super market ignoring a tantrum.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:40 am
  • Reply darylfaure

    I’m still laughing Sharon, but with you, not at you, having just survived 3 days (which happened to coincide with his 3rd birthday, and too much stimulation and sugar) of the worst tantrums and behaviour ever. I could tell you it is going to get easier, but I would be lying, so I will just wish you strength sister.

    May 1, 2012 at 9:44 pm
  • Reply To Love Bella

    I know you’ll forgive me for having just the tiniest chuckle!
    Isabella is at this stage too and there is no easy way of dealing with it! I just pick her up like a sack of potatoes, chest down, my right arm hooked under her arms, and my left clamped between her thighs, holding her tummy. It is the safest grip and you certainly do avoid those nasty bumps and bruises which come with their flailing limbs!
    10/10 for handling it so well – I don’t think I’d’ve coped with THREE rounds!!!

    May 2, 2012 at 8:27 am
  • Reply Robyn

    BAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHA! HILARIOUS!! I can so identify, happens to me on a regular. Glad I am not alone!!

    May 2, 2012 at 11:19 am
  • Reply TJ

    Good for winning this one! Definately one of the battles you DO choose to fight in!
    And yes, thank heavens we don’t embarass easily!

    May 2, 2012 at 11:43 am
  • Reply Chriscentia

    This had me laughing out loud, I think more because I could totally relate!! Had a similar episode and thus avoid the Lion Park curio at all costs!

    May 4, 2012 at 8:58 am
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