Friday, September 2, 2011

Temper Tantrums or Autism??

Autism: Or Just a Temper Tantrum? Why You Have to Just Let Them Cry Sometimes

Pin It Let me paint a picture for you:  I'm standing at the kitchen counter, slicing strawberries for dinner.  Little Buddy comes over and starts tugging at my pants.  "Dinner will be ready soon," I say.  He continues to tug at my pants, getting more and more insistent, even stomping his feet while he whines and points.  I hand him one small strawberry to tide him over.  He smacks my hand away.  He doesn't want strawberries.  He starts genuinely crying now.  Louder.  And louder.

I stop what I'm doing.  I pick him up and let him reach out for what he wants.  He can't talk yet so he can't tell me what he wants.  He goes straight for the knife.  He's getting so strong and fast that he almost jumps out of my arms.  "You can't have the knife Little Buddy.   It's too dangerous."  I put him down and try to turn to go back to my strawberries.

Unfortunately, Little Buddy is now in full-blown tantrum mode.  He is laying on his stomach, banging hands and feet and crying hysterically.  Now I have a few options that I consider:

1.  Abandon dinner and run around the house frantically trying to find something else that will make him happy.
2.  Wrap a towel around the knife, followed my masking tape so that it's not sharp anymore,and carefully supervise him while he plays with the knife so that he stops crying
3.  Ignore him

I really did very, very briefly consider number 2.  I hate listening to crying.  Of course you can't let your kid play with knives, but when you have to listen to that screaming...well, I'm only human!!  (kidding, I swear).  In the end, I elect to go with ignore him.  Now, I know there are some people out there who NEVER let their kids cry.  And kudos to them I say.  However, I recently had to call my pediatrician because I was genuinely worried that Little Buddy was developing Autism.  He started doing tantrums at only 13 months and I was concerned.  Here is how he spent his days.  I swear, you can ask my nanny:

But here is what my doctor said:

"Katie, he interacts with you and is playful.  He doesn't have autism, at least at this point.  He is strong-headed, you have a tough one.  Ignore him completely when he has a tantrum.  Go into another room.  Act like you don't even hear him.  After a few weeks, you should start seeing a difference."

Oh, so he's just being a brat!  Lightbulb!!  Sure enough, I did see almost a 180 degree turn-around.  No longer did I have the kid who was kicking his legs and screaming at the top of his lungs in the mall.  He settled down after a few weeks and now I'm not even TEMPTED to let him play with knives!! :-)  Now, here is how is life looks:

If you were very observant you might have noticed that his eating and pooping increased...yep, the less he cried the more he had time to eat, and thus more time to poop!!  Ahhhh babies, fun fun!!
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  1. Ha! Reminds me of the time I took my oldest to the doctor because I thought she needed her hearing checked. Turns out she was just sick of listening to me. She has perfect hearing, it's just selective!

  2. Every parent needs to read this post. I love your visuals.

  3. You are a very funny writer. Love it! My son LOVES to play with knives. I don't actually let him, of course, at least not "Mama" knives, as he calls them. I let him use the toddler ones and he loves it. For Christmas "Santa" brought him this Melissa & Doug set of fruit & veg that comes with a cutting board and wooden knives. The fruit & veg are sliced, but attached with velcro and when he "cuts" it, it makes a little cutting sound and he is SOOOO happy!