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April 30, 2002 - Tuesday
What to do we do about the tantrums of a two year old? Harry's only had a few, and another today, and in each case I've pretty much seen them coming. That is there is a series of events, actions by Harry and responses by us, that has the inevitable conclusion of our removing or changing some object at the center of the negative action and Harry flying off into some screaming rage.

Harry brings a random object to dinner. We say it doesn't belong at the table, but Harry insists. Is this the battle line? We decide it is not and say that it can stay, but only if he does not play with it during dinner. That goes fine for a while. Then, boredom with the process of chewing kicks in and the trouble begins. We have to threaten removal, knowing full well that the result is a tantrum. It's a game of chance really; maybe there's a chance that dinner will be over before the number of threats becomes counterproductive and maybe not.

I'm thinking these days that the best response is silence. Tonight at dinner the object was the buckles connected with Harry's booster seat. He became quite distracted with them to the point I thought they should be buckled around him. It's really not been all that long since we stopped using them and I suppose if we had really made a formal decision that he didn't need them anymore we should have removed them. But, that did not happen and tonight did. With Harry effective repeatedly calling the bluff that I would buckle him in, the little way out but to stick by the threat and let the screaming take its course. In the past, I've tried chastizing Harry for the silliness or made other threats that I'll have to act on if he doesn't calm down. Then, it's a fight. Walking away, getting up from the table and letting him fight with himself seems like a much better alternative.

The interesting part is that after dinner Harry insisted that I read him a story. It's a fascinating dynamic that I've noticed before about which I'm sure child experts have many theories. Quite the opposite of holding a grudge against me for doing something he didn't like, it seems Harry (any child) is far more interested in making sure that the love and security is ultimately still there. I'm guessing that dynamic changes some time between now and the teenage years, but that's a subject for another day.

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