So, I know it’s been a minute since the movie Moana first came out. But lately, I’ve had one scene playing through my head on the daily. You know the scene. Moana is walking slowly toward a giant, flaming Te Kā. She’s courageously holding the heart of Te Fiti up in the air and singing sweetly to calm the raging fire goddess. It’s a beautiful scene that would leave a lasting impression on anyone who saw it. For me, though, it only appears in my head when one of my kids is losing their shirt (minus the “r”). That’s when I realized that the scene is a master class in the art of dealing with a tantrum. So, let’s dissect it. Shall we?
Step One: Distract the child with a shiny object.
Let’s face it. 99.9% of all kid meltdowns have something to do with a missing / taken object. In this case, Moana has the exact object Te Kā is upset about. If you have said object in hand, then you may proceed to Step Two. If you do not possess said object (because it was a random rubber band from the Target parking lot that still had the previous owner’s hair stuck to it or something equally disturbing), then you will have to settle with something from your purse. Unfortunately, the more unpleasant the lost object is, then the more unpleasant the substitute will have to be. But, at least you know where that reserve tampon from your purse has been. Now that you have gotten the child to stop screaming with the promise of new object to obsess over, it’s time to move on to Step Two.
Step Two: Calm the child down with a sweet song about how wonderful they are.
Look, we all go through moments in our lives where we act like giant, pissed-off lava monsters that can’t stop throwing fireballs at the ones that love us most. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a caring earth goddess inside of us just waiting to be understood for who she really is. Our children are no different. The lyrics to the song that Moana is singing to Te Kā are almost verbatim what I say to my girls when they are in lava monster mode. “They have stolen the heart (aka disgusting rubber band) from inside you (r hand). But this does not define you (because you know you would rather play with the tampon I’m about to give you). This is not who you are (we do not act like maniacs over parking lot rubber bands). You know who you are (aka my snuggle bunny, cuddle bug). Works every time.
Step Three: Hand over the object.
This is the delicate last step. If the hand-off isn’t done in such a way that the child feels like they have emerged victorious, then all has been for naught. Moana lovingly embraces Te Kā regardless of how much pain and frustration the lava monster has caused her (Is there a more accurate definition of motherhood?), whispers a reaffirmation of her previous statements, and softly hands over the desired object. That, my friends, is how it’s done. Do not deviate. Do not try to proclaim your own self as victor. Back away slowly and watch as your tiny lava monster turns back into the earthly goddess of love and affection that she is.