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The big problem with doing something to try and make them stop is that they learn this is a way to behave if you want something. I’ve learned to ignore the stares of anyone who might watch. I’ve always said that parents should be judged not by the behavior of their children, but by their reaction to it. Your child is an individual who is learning how to behave. You get to deal with today’s choices and work to teach a better one for tomorrow.

Usually after a situation is over I will summarize for my child what the lesson needed to be–not in an “I told you so” piggy backing way, but in a “Let’s make sure we’re on the same page” way. So I might say, “You didn’t like what I did. You were very angry. You may be angry. You may not scream at me like that. Do you understand? How will you say it next time?” But I deal with the feelings before I try to move to the teaching, otherwise I don’t really have an audience.

And being under stress isn’t an excuse to misbehave. I would still be setting kind and firm boundaries. “I can see that something is wrong. You may tell me what it is. You may not scream in my face.” The nice thing about GBD is you are working to learn the cause of the misbehavior while you are addressing the misbehavior. It doesn’t matter what’s causing it for the aspect of setting healthy boundaries. Whether it’s intentional or not you deal with it the same. Uncovering the cause just helps you heal the problem.



My almost-two year old (20 months) has horrible tantrums. I spank and spank, but if anything, the tantrums are getting worse. But I know the Bible says to spank my children, and I don’t know what else to do!


The rod verses are not referring to a literal instrument *intended for hitting or spanking children*. They are referring to a literal Shebet–one of three Hebrew words translated as “rod” in the English and most commonly referencing a symbol of authority–either a walking stick carried by a head of the family, a shepherd’s staff, or a king’s sceptre–but also used to refer to the 12 tribes–or offshoots– and even to Jesus himself! My first counsel to you would be to stop spanking your baby. You are provoking him to anger and that is specifically counseled against by Paul!

Now, as for how to deal with his frustration. First, please stop calling what he’s doing “temper tantrums”. Those words carry strong connotation that will frustrate you more as you try to deal with this. True temper tantrums are found in older children who have been taught that this behavior is how you get what you want–they are manipulative and intended. In a 20 month old BABY what you are experiencing is frustration. He is overwhelmed with frustration and it is exploding out of him. It’s reasonable to expect when you are designed by God to explore and someone is thwarting that in you.

So, it’s totally age appropriate. At the same time, it’s not appropriate to do in general and must be *taught* against. So, on to your question of how to respond.

The rule for GBD is “kind and firm” and both elements are very important. If you have determined that something is unsafe or unacceptable for him to have then, as the parent and authority, you have every right and obligation to set that boundary. You need to state it clearly. “Not for ___. Owie–this will hurt.” Or however it’s appropriate to explain. Use simple terms and try to pick a few consistent words. We use the hand waving back and forth to indicate “no” ala baby signs and Aidan, at 10 months, was able to copy it and move away from something.

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