Thursday, 6 September 2012

Averting a tantrum - our staged trip to school

For a while now Aisha (2) has been asking to go to school. It has always been my plan to stay home with her until she turned three (since I hadn't had this opportunity with my other kids).

I'm not sure how I feel about her need to go to school. A bit inadequate, maybe? I thought I was providing her with a stimulating happy environment, but it doesn't seem to be enough.

She wants to be around other children. But mostly, I suspect that she imagines 'school' to be this fun place where her brother and sisters hang out together all day with other friends, playing to their hearts' content.

Yesterday morning she awoke determined to go to school with them. A tantrum ensued.

Now, you have to understand that when this happens, one can either ignore it (and the million demands that are made while she is screaming and ranting), or one can play along and indulge her demands. Both instances could result in 3-hour long screaming sessions. In fact, in the former case, one is more or less guaranteed a 3-hour long screaming session, followed by a really bad mood, which inevitably results in another tantrum soon thereafter.

Contrary to the beliefs of many, simply ignoring her does not teach her a lesson. It ups the frustration levels - hers and mine. She is stubborn. She does not simply get over it after a while, as many have suggested she will. Ignoring her generates a snowball effect of frustration, anger, screaming and ranting. It has never made the situation better.

Indulging her, on the other hand, too could result in her hissy fit continuing for a very long time (usually not 3 hours long though). But sometimes, showing her a happy,  positive, co-operative attitude actually serves to mellow her down. She is also easier to distract and I find it easier to divert her attention to something, which will make her happier.

So after 45 minutes of me attending to/ at least acknowleging her needs, she usually feels less frustrated and 'rebellious'. Often, upon me complying with a request she makes during these tirades, she eventually responds with ''Thank you mommy'' and everything is over (though this could continue for an hour as well). However, she is almost always in a better mood than after she's been ''cried out'' after 3 hours, as I've often been advised to let her do.

So, getting back to yesterday morning, when she cried to go to school. Let me start by saying that these are not the lengths to which we typically go to pacify her. Yesterday was an extreme case.

We knew that by them (Mo and the kids) leaving her behind, we (Aisha and I) would, very likely suffer an intensely miserable morning at home. Taking her with and bringing her back home after dropping them off at school, on the other hand, could possibly pacify her. It provided many more opportunities to distract her.

She insisted upon getting dressed, packing her school bag, brushing her hair and wanted a packed lunch. 


She partook in all the before-school rituals with the older kids. Like this one, where they spend time in the garden and feed the fish.

So off we went. We did not know what she expected, but suspected that she thought she was going to their school with them. We were right - as soon as they got out of the car, she immediately became teary.

As usual Nuha (7) ran to the one end of the schoolyard to wave to Mo as he drove past. This time he slowed down and rolled down Aisha's window to enable her to wave to her older sister. Bad move - she then started to cry.
''I love Nuha, '' she sniffed pitifully.
And then added, ''I want to go to school''.

Driving away from her brother and sisters' school - very sad and teary

Fortunately the creche/daycare/kindergarten in which we are planning to enrol her next year is situated on the way from the kids' school. So we decided to humour her (and test her response) by taking her to her  school. She was excited.

Until we arrived outside the school and she realised that I would not be spending the day there with her ( in this staged scenario).

Once again she became teary. She looked really afraid. By this time, I was keen to find out what I will be facing come January next year, so I asked Mo to take her inside - just to take a look around (and again, to test her reaction).

Fortunately our other three kids had all attended this daycare, so the principal was more than happy to indulge our insanity. She took them to meet the teacher in whose class Aisha will be next year.


According to Mo, Aisha refused to lift her head from his shoulder or to make eye contact with the teacher.

But our mission had been accomplished. She had been to school. Funnily enough, her account of the experience was very different to what Mo recalled. She later told her brother and sisters that she had been to school, seen her fwiends and had had so much fun!

Later we headed off to McDonalds, where Mo and I rewarded ourselves with a greasy breakfast, for being clever enough to outwit a 2 year old and averting a tantrum.

Though come to think of it, she had insisted upon being taken to school, which she then was. So, in actual fact, she had accomplished exactly what she'd wanted - simply by intimidating the heck out of her chumpish parents.


Fahranaaz said...

haha! Well done!
I've said this before, sometimes giving in to their demands isn't such a bad idea. E.g. my nephew used to refuse to take his Pj's off before creche... now come on, let the little guy go to creche with his Pj's for goodness sake (of course with clothes in his bag) its just creche after all. I'm sure once he gets there he'll be embarrassed and want his regular clothes.
But alas what do I know right? So the fighting (that would make everyone late) continued every morning until he started big school this year where they wear a uniform.

Savouring mommy moments said...

So true. One really has to pick one's battles - fighting about the little things is just not worth it and does not help the situation at all. It definitely does not teach Aisha anything - if anything, she just becomes more obstinate.

Oh, I foresee the situation with your nephew playing out in our house every morning when she starts school next year. But, heck, I'll send her to school wearing a bathing costume and a snorkel if it prevents a tantrum, lol.

Turkish Mom said...

i posted the recipe for chocolate frosting u asked. i aplogize for late response!

Savouring mommy moments said...

Thanks Turkish Mom. I can't wait to try it.