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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

Temper Taming Devices

There is a secret to taming a temper than the Maryland DMV is already aware of. Yup, they use the same sort of concept to ‘tame’ their traffic issues: traffic circles. No, I haven’t lost my mind. Seriously, the concept of a traffic circle runs parallel to what often can be a very effective tool for helping to ease a temper tantrum.

The traffic circle concept is that first you see the oncoming traffic circle. You yield to the traffic in the circle, merging into the traffic as is it is safe to do so. You can then signal to depart the circle as you need, taking care to yield to traffic as is necessary. (I could probably throw in some more technical terms, but you get the idea). Many states, Maryland especially, have embraced the idea, especially because these circles work effectively and result in fewer traffic accidents.

So how could this possibly apply to a temper tantrum? We’re speaking metaphorically here. Think of the tantrum as the circle. Your kid is in there, going around and around, and he’s stuck. He can’t figure out which exit is his, and he’s getting more and more irritated and worked up by the minute. You need to enter the circle carefully, yielding to his ‘traffic’ and slowly merge into the flow. By this I mean, understand the tantrum, and watch where it might have come from and where it might be aiming. Understanding the general flow of ‘normal’ traffic can be helpful. (What normally sets off your child?) As you flow with the ‘traffic’, empathizing with the situation can be helpful. (Letting your child know you understand he’s mad and agreeing that yes, XXX can be really frustrating.) And then easing out of the traffic as it is safe to do so. You’ve done your part. Now it’s time for the traffic to flow on it’s own. A temper tantrum can very often just be frustration at not being heard or understood. Letting your kid know that you get it, you understand he’s mad and agree that it isn’t fair. Then it’s up to him to calm down, and get over it. That’s his job.

Ok, perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but I like it. Now, anyone who has attempted to transverse Dupont Circle knows that while the system generally works, it can also result in utter chaos. So, as in all parenting rules, exceptions apply. But really, here is where defensive driving skills really can help you in real life.

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