Works For Me: Just Add Water

Wfmwheader When Adam was three, he was prone to very loud, very long, very intense temper tantrums.  It was a constant battle.  One summer day, when he was throwing a royal fit in the living room, I’d simply had enough.  I picked the boy up, hauled him into the backyard, turned on the hose, and…yep…I sprayed him down.

Needless to say, the tantrum stopped.  And remarkably, that was a turning point in his ability to keep his temper under control.

I tell you this story a) in case you thought I was always a kind and patient mother, b) because I’m thinking that the statute of limitations is up and you can’t report me, and c) because it illustrates a helpful mothering tool I’ve learned over the years:  water fixes everything.

Okay, maybe not everything, but it fixes a lot.  Especially when your children are very young.  Tempers around our house seem to flare a little more easily when the weather is warm, and here are some water-related tension breakers that really work for me:

  • playing in the hose and/or sprinkler
  • gargling contests
  • spitting contests (we’re terribly refined around here, as you can tell)
  • mudpies
  • "painting" the fence with water
  • washing the car
  • sending the older kids upstairs for a cool shower
  • bubble baths (this is how I read my Newsweek each week–with Corrie happily playing in the bubbles while I sit in the floor next to her.  It goes without saying, of course, that you should never leave a young child unattended in the bathtub.)
  • "play cooking" with the hose and all my cookware in the backyard

Works for me! 

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77 thoughts on “Works For Me: Just Add Water

  1. Jill says:

    Great advice. As I am dealing with a screaming teething baby while blogging (parenting at its best!), I forgot my topic. It is shower gifts. Sorry!

  2. Mommy-fied says:

    You too? My son had the worst temper tantrums at 3 too. Now he’s 4 and out of it thankfully so no need for the hose! But thanks for all the other water tips. It’s great cause I live in Singapore where it’s hot all year round!

  3. diatribal says:

    Water is great. It is such a good and unexpected treat to play with. Kids seem to think that playing in water is something very special.
    (We are just now hitting the tantrum stage…I may be trying that very soon.)

  4. Karen @ Simply A Musing Blog says:

    Well, I wouldn’t report you…I’d join you. Water is great for cooling tempers – one time I sprayed my husband with the faucet sprayer in the middle of a discussion that got a little too heated and we ended up giggling and in a water fight instead of a word fight. Much easier to clean up a water fight any day.

  5. Jessica Snell says:

    We do the water-play-in-the-sink thing a lot around here. I even let them play in my nice clean dishtubs. so that if they drink some of the water they’re playing with, I don’t have to worry about it. Lots of towels on the floor and fun for everyone!
    peace of Christ to you,
    Jessica Snell

  6. Kathy in WA says:

    Shannon – I just wanted to thank you for hosting this fun carnival every week. I love reading all the tips (or as many as I can fit in during my day, you know ignoring the children and all) and getting to know some new people.
    Duckabush Blog

  7. Corrie says:

    The magic of water has my kids still begging to be the one to wash the dishes. Great ideas. I think my son would like the spitting contest.

  8. Jennifer says:

    You sound like one of those “fun mamas.” I need to work on that… I may have to try this out! Reminds me of that paper towel commercial! The sink sprayer might be interesting… nah, too much work to clean up. You see my problem. πŸ™‚

  9. Sasha says:

    Oh! I think this is a FABULOUS idea. I’m in the process of adopting and I don’t believe in spanking but the youngest (5 year old) has been throwing awful tantrums and physically hurting me. I should ask the social worker if this is okay. I mean I think it’s brilliant!

  10. Naomi says:

    Some fab suggestions here Shannon!! No.4 is on the way (in November, hubby is back off to school (teacher) and I’m simply running out of ideas!
    Off to hose them all down!

  11. ABC says:

    Love all these new ideas every week! I can’t wait to try out all your water games with Love Bug when we get to the “tantrum stage”. I hope we have another year or two before they are needed!

  12. Cindy says:

    Great tip! When one of my girls was 3 and screamed at the top of her lungs the entire way home from a park, I threw her in the shower fully clothed and turned the cold water on. I only had to do that one more time and the fits stopped. I had never heard the idea before; I truly believe it was God-inspired in order to save her little life and my sanity! πŸ™‚

  13. Amblin says:

    We use baths around here to calm down an upset child. Something about bubbles and bath toys really helps to soothe frazzled child nerves.

  14. TracyMichele says:

    With temps over 100 for weeks this summer, I was looking for a way to cool down the kids and release some of the tension. I, too, turned to water! I ambushed the kids with a squirt gun and we had a water fight for about an hour. It was the best time! You are right.. water fixes everything.

  15. Mike says:

    Our kids get all excited when it rains because they can put on their rainboots and go jump in the puddles. We’ve had 15″ of rain this month, so it has been a good puddle month.

  16. dcrmom says:

    LOL! Hilarious. I have a friend who once threw a glass of water in her daughter’s face when she was throwing a fit. I’ve never done it, but I’ve been sorely tempted. πŸ™‚ I really love your water play suggestions. Washing the car . . . good one!

  17. Kathy Days says:

    Great idea– I actually just read in “Raising Your Spirited Child” that water is indeed a great fix for everything! And now that you’ve confirmed it too, I must try!

  18. Mommy, the Human Napkin says:

    I will occasionally use a squirt bottle in the face for tantrums. We’ve also had to utilize the cold shower around here, too. Time outs don’t work for us, but the shock of the cold water certainly does! My kids are little water babies, though, so for restless days, I send them out to their empty pool and turn on the hose. They have a great time hosing each other (and the dog) down and filling up the pool.

  19. Alicia says:

    My toddler is in love with chocolate milk. Her favorite water amusement is to fill a long line of cups with water that she dubs “chocate milk.”

  20. Laane says:

    Water… most of my children didn’t like water when they were young.
    But the girls? They loved it!
    The best distraction was to let them do the washing up. LOL!

  21. Simple_Chic says:

    I just posted my WFMW about easy cake decorating.
    I’ve hosed my kiddle down in the middle of a tantrum too. I won’t be reporting you, just glad to know I’m not the only “impatient” mother.

  22. SAHMmy Says says:

    Thanks for confessing! πŸ™‚ We’re going through a fabulous phase with the 3-year-old right now…it’s gonna be 105 today…I may just break out the hose!

  23. Sandy says:

    I love that, “water works for me!”
    You really do give out great, practical advice! Keep it up, Shannon!
    Hey, come on over and win Paul’s Jellyfish book … you can pass it on to a friend (he he). He’s going to be on 700 Club tomorrow …
    Sandy πŸ™‚

  24. Susan Ramey Cleveland says:

    Now that’s very smart. Wish I’d thought of that when my kids were little. It reminds me of a commercial on TV where the little boy accidentally sprays his mom is a bottle of soda or something and he’s terrified that he is in trouble. But she turns around with the sink sprayer and sprays him good. She turns a potential catastrophe into a fun game. I wish I had been that kind of mom.

  25. Penny (mama26blessings) says:

    Mine is up! I love the water, it has saved me many of times!! My mom used to keep a spray bottle filled with water in the fridge, as a kid, if we weren’t up on time we got it!! (She’d yell once and then after that we’d hear “The forecast calls for freezing rain!!!” we knew GET UP or GET IT!!)

  26. Anna says:

    We helped raise my toddler cousin who was also prone to these types of tantrums. That is until the day he threw a tantrum in our garden and launched himself backward into a rose bush. He was luckily not badly injured, just a few surface scratches, but he never threw a tantrum of major proportions again!

  27. Halfmoon Girl says:

    I totally agree with you on this. When my 4th was only a week old, I hosted my 6 year olds bd party. I just put out hoses, shovels and buckets in the dirt and they were happy for a few hours!

  28. Kathleen Marie says:

    There really is something so calming about water. The sound, the smell if you are near an ocean or lake.
    I use to put my kids in the tub to play when they got a bit too rowdy.
    Hugs!

  29. Dannie says:

    I can relate to another comment posted here. I have an 11 and 6 year old that are by no means morning people. So, when they choose to not get up on time and get ready for school they usually find it raining in their room. I use a water bottle after about 5 mintues of roaming upstairs when they decide to not get up.

  30. Jendi says:

    My first time also.
    Just yesterday I let the kids entertain themselves with squirt bottles and a bucket of water. Keeps ’em cool and happy.

  31. Toni says:

    These are great suggestions! The tantrums around here seem to invariably start when I am in the midst of cooking. To combat this I have sometimes have my children “wash” dishes while I cook. They mostly just play in the water but it keeps them content until the meal is ready.

  32. Amy P says:

    Ha! I forgot how much my brothers and I would spend our day painting the fence!!! We alternated between being Karate Kid and then we would “whitewash” ala Tom Sawyer. Too funny.

  33. Heather says:

    I have made a mental note of your tips (I also wrote them down for back up!). Darling son is only 8 months old, but I’m sure these will come in handy sooner or later. Does it work on teething angst?

  34. janine says:

    Sounds like a technique I may need to try out someday – it’s also crowd control technique, but, hey, sometimes a child can sound like a crowd.

  35. Barbara says:

    It’s been less than 24 hours since I last imagined throwing cold water on *my* 3 year old. She has decided that when she is having a tantrum it is most effective to yell right into the face of the person who has triggered her wrath. It is good to know that I am not alone.

  36. Proverbs31 says:

    I love it! We use water a lot too. I thought about doing something similar for my wfmw post, but I decided to go with the kid’s vaccum thing. πŸ™‚

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, water is a great distractor!!! When my little ones were teething they might get 3 baths a day!!

  38. jess says:

    sometimes when i am the one who has lost patience, i send my kids to the tub with bubble bath and all the popsicles they can eat. no mess from drippy popsicles, and they’ll play in there for hours. instant ME time!

  39. singinole says:

    Girl, if you like soft paper towels, you have got try VIVA. They are the best! Super-soft (made by Kleenex), super-absorbent, and reusable ( get it wet, wring it out, wipe somethin’ up, repeat…i’m not kidding!) You can find them on sale for about $6 for an 8 pack and there are usually coupons for .50 . It sounds pricey, but if you use papertowels, they are so worth it. πŸ™‚

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