Learning through a 4-year-old’s tantrum


One night, my 4-year-old cried for a little over 1.5 hours.  She was tired.  I had decided that we, my children and I, would go out for dessert.  I needed a treat and I knew that the sugar high would also knock my sleep-resistant 4-year-old out within 20 minutes.  In her tired mind she created a different story, and an emotion to match.  She immediately began to challenge me.  Her challenge began in the work of simply leaving the house.  She would not put on a shirt or shoes.  “No, shirt, no shoes, no dessert,” I tried rationalizing with her.  As bad as she wanted the dessert, she could not bring herself to cooperate.  I finally took it upon myself to get her ready.  Then, she had an outburst, a minor fit.  I responded with a swift tap on her rear.  She was wearing thick denim jeans so, it was more for the shock factor than pain.  She was shocked, and a bit upset.  “Let’s get ourselves together so that we can go,” I commented.  “That means no screaming, shouting, or yelling.  We need to work together or forget this outing all together.”  “No!” she yelled.


Remember, this is really all about me wanting a treat, so I made it work.  My 4-year-old cried or yelled through it all, making her way to the car in1.5 minutes.  “Listen Riley, I need you to stop yelling, and crying, and whining if you want dessert.”  She paused her complaining in thought.  One minute later, she was back at it.  “Riley, I am going to return home if you keep this up.  I need you to stop crying,” I ordered.  I noticed the clock read 9:11 pm, which is really 9:01 pm because I need to set my clocks ahead to arrive on time.  Now, she throws in a couple of screams for good measure.  “Riley, I will give you one more warning.  You must be quiet if you want to get dessert.  Otherwise, we are going back home now.”  She took the volume of her cries up a notch. 


Realizing that I have to make good on my threats, I finally decide that my treat is going to have to take a backseat on this occasion.  In total frustration, I turned the next corner and headed home.  She cried all the way back.  She cried all the way upstairs to the room (of course had she stopped for even a moment, I would have turned around again for that treat).  She cried through my undressing her and putting her in bed.  Mind you, I am totally calm at this point; I realize this is nothing more than fatigue.  I even explain to her that she is tired and this is why she cannot stop crying.  I kiss her, hold her, and tell her it is ok.  I stroke her hair, rub her belly, and massage her back.  With all of the lights out, the electronics off, and everyone existing in silence, she goes on for another 1.25 hours; pausing only to tell me that she wants to go for dessert.  An hour in, I explain that the store is closed and that we can try again tomorrow.  She continues her show of fatigue, frustration, and inexperience of managing her emotions. 


Finally, she asks me if I am sorry for startling her. “What?” I ask.  “You hit me,” she says.  “Yes,” I say with hurt in my heart and guilt throughout my entire being, “I am sorry.”  “I love you.  I love you.  I love you,” she says.  “So, do you promise not to ever hit me again,” she asks?  “I love you.  I love you. I love you.  And I will not hit you again,” I said.  Then, there in the dark, she talked, about almost nothing, for 20 minutes.


“What are you trying to tell me?” I ask Spirit.  “Go to bed,” Spirit says.  Yep, I’ve been hearing for over a month now, “You must be in bed between the hours of 8-9pm,” and I have yet to comply.  Laughing out loud, I get it.  Watching her sleep, I finally understand.


Once Riley is asleep, I wonder how many times has Spirit experienced this moment with me; the moment when Spirit knows what is best for me and I am in denial?  Confused?  Here is the clear translation.  I have asked Spirit for more clarity (Truth is, I don’t even know how much clearer Spirit could be.  I am just fishing for ways to put off my work out of fear).  In response, Spirit tells me to cleanse/detox.  Even while Spirit has made it easier for me to stop eating (I no longer enjoy my food, nor am I very hungry), I manage to eat instead of detoxing.  So, Spirit tells me to go to bed earlier, between 8-9pm.  This will allow me to function on less food energy.  Every night, I find a reason to stay awake.  Staying awake makes me cranky, hungry, and less productive in every manner of my life.  When I fill myself with food, I cannot hear Spirit as clearly.  So, in this way, I am Riley; the 4-year-old that refuses to sleep even though she is exhausted.


I get it now.  I’ve been throwing the tantrum.  Tonight, I will rest.




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