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New name for children’s temper tantrums

POSTED: May 26, 2013 1:00 a.m.

The official name is now Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder. We used to call it a temper tantrum.

The American Psychiatric Association has recently published its new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Among the diagnosis now offered is a name for a temper tantrum.

The last time it published an update was 2000. I’ve seen a lot of kids pitching temper tantrums. Apparently, the so-called experts now are convinced this is a condition that goes alongside others, such as depression.

I’m glad Mama didn’t live long enough to see this.

She had several names for this condition.

One was, “Don’t make me stop this car.”

I learned quickly the advantage of stopping my uncontrollable sobbing before the car could be driven into a parking lot or onto the side of the road.

The other name was “I’ve had just about enough.” Which meant Mama was about to take serious action.

I mentioned this on Facebook the other day and someone reminded me about his mother dousing him with a glass of water. That happened once to me and once was enough.

Somewhere along the way, adults gave up being adults.

I knew Mama meant business and I respected what she had to say. Her firmness did not cause me to have any mental anguish and I miss her like crazy.

My daddy was a quiet man and if you crossed him, that belt was coming off. I don’t remember him hitting me with it. He was sort of like the late Gunther Gebel Williams, the famed animal trainer with the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus. He didn’t hit me, he just popped the leather.

There was also the full-name tactic. If Mama called me by my first, middle and last name followed by a look that could melt a glacier, then look out.

She also pulled out a hard one every now and then, the disappointment move. When she would tell me how she expected me to act like a young man and how I have disappointed her, my heart fell. I usually cried.

In an early episode of “The Andy Griffith Show,” a new kid in town, Arnold, tries to show Opie how to be defiant.

When Andy impounds Arnold’s bike after the boy was warned a second time, Arnold’s father shows up at the courthouse asking for the bike to be returned. When the father gets indignant, Andy suggests the father could be put in jail. The boy, Arnold, says, “Go ahead, put him in jail, he won’t care.” The father, realizing his son is out of control, tells Andy he will sell the boy’s bike. When Arnold starts another tantrum, Andy offers the woodshed out back.

I know there are people who are abusive to kids and there is a huge difference between the discipline many of us knew from our parents and anything that resembles abuse. We are two generations removed from kids who played in the dirt, rode bikes, made forts and used their creative ability to make imaginary rockets and sailing ships. We played in the yard all day until the dirt from our bodies made a ring around the bathtub.

And we wonder why today’s kids have so much pent-up energy.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on gainesvilletimes.com/harris.


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