While I'm going to go ahead and assume your partner just wants to help, let's be honest: sometimes parenting partners make sh*t worse. Whether they undermine your actions and subconsciously pit your kid against you, or think they're helping by taking on the brunt of responsibilities, sometimes their involvement doesn't help. And when it comes to the sh*tty things your partner will do when your kid's having a meltdown, well, hold on to your butts. Nothing will test the whole "teamwork" thing like a toddler losing their mind and two parents who are, for whatever reason, not on the same page.
My partner is generally passive (until everything builds and he snaps about something ridiculous) which typically compliments my more dominant personality. In other words, and for the most part, it works. But every now and then he feels the need to step in and put his "best" foot forward, and that something usually messes up whatever it is I'm trying to do when parenting a kid in the middle of an epic meltdown. Maybe it's to be "helpful," or maybe it's because he sometimes gets a kick out of watching me get frustrated trying to reign our child in, but whatever the reason I say no to all of it.
I'm sure my partner isn't the only one to do any of the following and, sure, I may have been guilty a time or two as well. So with all that in mind, and because preparation is the name of the parenting game, here are some things your partner will inevitably do that will undoubtably disrupt the natural flow of your child's meltdown:
It helps no one when one parent breaks down and laughs when a fit is going down. When my daughter has a tantrum (even at 10 years old) and he laughs, that's it: the meltdown to last forever. Legitimately. Regardless of how she's behaving, laughing only makes her feelings seem invalid.
They Get Angry
I've been doing this Mom Thing long enough to know that when my kids throw a tantrum, rarely is the outburst actually about me. It might stem from something I did or said (like taking away a privilege as a consequence to a bad choice or not buying that toy), but, most of the time, their reaction is due to a combination of things, including but certainly not limited to: lack of sleep, a long day at school, and feeling misunderstood or unheard.
If my partner takes offense (because maybe he's suffering from the same things), it escalates things to another level. By the time he realizes what he's done and how his reaction has made things worse, it's too late.
They Mock Your Kid
Not all houses are as sarcastic as ours. It's our coping mechanism of choice, because if we're not laughing, we're sobbing.
But if my partner decides to get sarcastic with our 5-year-old mid-meltdown, everything grows exponentially more difficult. Know your audience, people. A toddler and/or young child isn't going to be able to understand the nuances of sarcasm. They'll just feel like you're mocking them because, well, you are.
They Give In
Sometimes my passive partner wants the tantrum to end so quickly that he'll give either kid whatever it is they're pining after. Not only does this negate any progress I've made in handling the situation, but it teaches them that dad is the "good guy." Suddenly my partner is the one that'll give them whatever they want if they simply throw a fit, and that's their incentive to continue losing their sh*t. Ugh.
They Try To Have An Intellectual Discussion
There's a good time to talk about holding our feelings in and how that affects our bodies, to be sure. But when my daughter's eyes are clouded and her voice is shrieking? Yeah, that's not the right time. I appreciate the effort on this one — I do — but let's wait until she can actually see and hear you.
They Question You In Front Of Them
If I've got a kid throwing a tantrum, I haven't asked for help yet, and you've waited to step in to say anything at all, please don't question me about my tactic in front of them. Maybe I have a plan, or maybe I don't know what the hell I'm doing but I can't let them know that. Just go with it and, if you have questions, we can discuss at a later date and when our children aren't round.
They Ignore It's Happening At All
A real sh*tty thing for any partner to do when your kid is having a meltdown? Pretend it's not happening at all by hiding in their phone or leaving you to deal with it alone. If ignoring is the agreed upon method of reaction beforehand, cool and no harm down. If not, it only reflects what kind of partnership you really have happening here and. honestly, it doesn't benefit your relationship or your kids.
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