Baby Tantrums

15 08 2006

Today, I came home a tired man (from some sort of illness I haven’t figured out yet) only to find that my wife and daughter, Annabelle, were sort of having an argument. My wife was busy preparing dinner, while Annabelle was sitting behind her in front of the sink, away from the stove (for her safety). I heard some crying as I approached the door to the garage, but once I walked though, I heard crying from her that seemed to not be that of a baby who needed something, but rather a baby who was angry at her mom for ignoring her (and maybe not feeding her in time). Annabelle has been more difficult to feed alternative foods (such as bottled milk and mushed baby food), so I am sure she tried to feed her at an appropriate time.

What I found odd was the tone of Annabelle’s crying. She is 6 months old now, and she seems to understand when we are happy and angry. So, my first reaction was to gather as much fatherly strength that I had and explain to her (a 6 month old) that we will not tolerate that kind of behaivor in my house. She didn’t understand the words, but she did understand the tone, and much of the cry summarily stopped. It also helped that I put her in her high chair as a signal that I was indeed going to feed her (as I have started to do during my dinner time these past couple of weeks).

While I was feeding her, I noticed that she had an almost sad look on her face, as any child would have after a stern scolding. I know my actual words were not demeaning nor necessarily harsh (I did not call her names, or talk down to her). But my tone was that of the authority, and she knew something was wrong. I hope I was soon enough with the scolding that she knew the reason. While I was feeding her, my wife came over, appologetically, and tried to feed her. Annabelle didn’t want to take the food from her. I picked up the spoon, filled it with spinach and potoatoes (pre mixed in a jar) as she took it, albeit a little slowly.

After a few minutes, we were able to get her smiling again. This is the natural state of my kids. I know I’m a good dad because my kids are happy. I know that the amount of discipline I bestow is far lower than the amount of fun, happiness and love with which I shower my children. I hope that future tantrums are soothed long before they develop into something like this, as this sort of power over children can be easily abused. That is something I will never do to my kids.

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