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Little children (say two/three year olds) frequently have tantrums (I want my ... and I want it NOW!!). Normally, one would let him cry a little, then when he calms down explain why you can't give him what he wants.

The issue is that neighbors complain, and put pressure on the parent to "just get that kid to stop crying". The thing is that if the parent gives in, the child realizes that he has "power" over the parent (I scream for 5 minutes, neighbors come, I get what I want), and he's too young to realize how much he's ruining his reputation.

What can the parent do short of moving out?

  • There is no easy way to keep others from trying to control how you raise your child. But, I was wondering, if the neighbors can hear the child crying to the point that it actually disturbs them, or are they simply bored and looking for a problem? Do they have jobs? Are the walls so thin that you, as well, can hear them? If so, you can beat them to the punch on complaining about “too much noise and whining". – Hydra119 Mar 13 '17 at 5:15
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    What prevents you from just not listening to neighbors? What's wrong with telling them not to interfere with your parenting? – sleske Mar 13 '17 at 12:48
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    I have been the neighbour and felt some exasperation if a tantrum happened between 10pm and 7am. However, I was smart enough to understand that I was not the only one losing sleep and that the parents were doing what they could. I did check with them to make sure the child was okay and offered to take the little man to the park (declined -- they did not know me well). So, I'd say, "I am sorry. We are doing everything we can -- especially during the night." If they complain beyond that -- tough. Perhaps the neighbours just want their 'two cents' to say they've noticed. No one enjoys a tantrum. – WRX Mar 13 '17 at 13:22
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    I feel your pain. Kid throws a tantrum, then neighbour throws a tantrum, so now you have two kids throwing tantrums to cope with at the same time. – gnasher729 Mar 16 '17 at 18:40
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My kids weren't that much tantrum prone - they rarely caused a fuss, but we devised a nice way to deal with it.

Once one of my kids started a tantrum, I did something extremely chaotic and out of the blue with her, to remove her attention from the tantrum-causing subject. The more surprising and fun, the better. Some of those things made my neighbors question my sanity, but, well... Let's get some examples.

  • Picking her up on a bear hug and throwing myself on my back to the ground, rolling with her for a few moments on the grass.
  • Lifting her up from the ground by her feet, keeping her out of the ground upside down, staring at her with the most deadpan face you can manage and them putting your tongue out for her.
  • Grabbing her on my arms and jumping out of the window towards the bushes taking her with me, screaming "I'm a NINJA, A NINJA!!" to the top of my lungs.
  • Saying that she is making mommy sad, and going to give some consolation to a chair or some other inanimate object, while my SO stays nearby looking confused.
  • Dropping to the ground and faking death, them "raising from the dead" as Zumbi-Dad and starting to play-bite her, them spit out saying that "poop-for-brains is not tasty".
  • Running away to her bedroom and grounding myself in there, and them proceed to make weird crashing and destruction noises and explosions using my cellphone to freak her out. (the kid needs to be a bit older for this one to work, however).
  • Sitting on the ground in complete and utter silence, looking at her with a deadpan face, until she tones down a bit. Them fart.
  • [FROM LAST WEEKEND] My eldest was throwing a tantrum regarding the imposed cellphone usage policy. I positioned myself in front of her, a bit crouched down, and started screaming random numbers, then I tackled her down and pinned her to the ground in the best American Footbal way I could manage. I then put her under my arm, started to run around in the house, and them threw her to the bed, screaming "TOUCHDOWN". She instantly forgot the tantrum and asked to play again.

As you can see, most of my "solutions" involve actually playing a sudden and unexpected game with the tantrumnizing kid. This surprise game showing up from nowhere and the sudden change of pace will break the focus of the kid and, if you're entertaining enough, will make her forget she was throwing a tantrum in the first place.

At least, this worked with my kids. But, again, I'm a somewhat reckless and insane parent, so your mileage may vary.

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    I wonder if this would just teach the kid that tantrums = playtime with dad. At any rate, these mental images are absolutely hilarious. – Becuzz Oct 30 '17 at 13:52
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You analyzed the situation quite well already. Now think on how to resolve this well for the long term!

As you said, the tantrums won't go away by giving in, just because the neighbours said so. Your plan to talk to the little guy, once calm again, is a good one. To speed up the cool down, stay calm yourself, and maybe try to talk calmly to the kid. Tell her to that you want her to calm down. Tell her, that this is not the way to get what she wants. Tell her you can work out a deal, but first she needs to stop. Slowly and calmly, face to face. Take as much time as the process needs and do not try to rush it. Especially not for non-family members.

Also, think about whether raising ones voice and being loud is a behaviour the kid developed on his own or if he is mirroring some person (grown up or other kid) around him.

Ultimately, do not try to solve the alleged parenting problem, but the actual people problem. As others said, try to explain that this is a phase, that will be over eventually, and that you are working on it. The way you describe it, your neighbours are most likely not parents themselves (That's at least what I hope for their potential children), and they might not understand what's going on, no matter how well you explain it to them. In that case you'll need to develop some resilience against their complaints. Usually relations do not sour beyond repair though and get better, once the problem (by their definition) is gone. If your neighbours do stay mad at you after that ... well, I guess there is nothing you could have done in the first place. Either way, do not worry too much about your reputation with those people. Your family and your relation to your children is way more important.

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Problems with neighbors are always tough, because they can make your life miserable. The real problem here isn't the tantrums, you're already working to deal with them. The real problem is the neighbors being disturbed by them.

When a tantrum happens, take the child to a different room which is farther away from the neighbors so as to reduce the noise for them. If that isn't enough, maybe consider creating a quiet zone in your house by using some soundproofing insulation. Even hanging some blankets on the walls can help.

  • Having a insulated, soundproof rooms to deal with tantrums would look extremely bad for the police, babysitters and the like. It would look like a room to mute the screams of pain while you torture the little kid... – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Mar 16 '17 at 17:28
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    @Tsar I think you've been watching too much CSI...I'm not suggesting a toddler tantrum torture chamber, just a room distant from the neighbors, possibly with some accoustic dampening features. – barbecue Mar 16 '17 at 18:33
  • Er... it was a joke. I'm sorry if my tongue-in-the-cheekness wasn't apparent! (Toddler Tantrum Torture Chamber looks like an awesome name, however) – T. Sar - Reinstate Monica Mar 16 '17 at 18:53

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