I was horror struck and in a bit of disbelief when I learned about the existence of a certain product that I am going to be putting through its paces in this article. As I clicked over to the linked page, I sat slack jawed, letting the text and peppy web design wash over me with a creeping chill. Was this like that old oft-Snopes-debunked “breathatarian” article that looks so legit everyone who reads it thinks it’s real for a second?
No. This is for real. For actual real.
Ladies and gentleman, I give you: TantrumBox.
What is this magical product?
It’s a shoebox full of cheap toys that you give to your kid to distract them from having a tantrum.
Let’s get happy.
I’m not kidding.
Let the place-putting begin…now.
We at TantrumBox believe that your time as a family should be tantrum free.
Oh, you do? Because somehow tantrums stopped being normal parts of childhood? Ways of letting out pent-up big feelings by a brain with an immature ability to self-regulate? That’s a relief—tantrums are such a pain!
TantrumBox allows every child and parent to be happy MOST of the time.
Wow, because that’s how life is supposed to be: happy MOST of the time. And your thingamajig can do this? Tell me more!
Our company provides you with the products and ideas that will distract your children and make them smile when mommy or daddy need it most!
Because children’s jobs are to make mommy and daddy happy. And we can’t think of any better way of doing that then distracting them.
TantrumBox is the only product on the market of this kind
THANK GOD FOR SMALL FAVORS.
and offers you a fun new solution to your child’s behavioral needs.
“Behavioral needs?” As in “your child’s behavior is a problem, and we need to sell you something?”
It is our mission to help you deal with your child’s tantrums and end each day with a smile!
Because feelings that don’t involve smiles are useless and clearly serve no function in the human experience.
Your children will thank you… and you will thank us!
Don’t be so sure about either of those claims.
How to use the TantrumBox
Step One: Before you start, make sure the Box itself is always hidden from your child’s view.
Wouldn’t want them to see that nifty SHOEBOX.
Step Two: When your child is having a temper tantrum present them with one item from the box to use to use as a distraction. (Do not show them the box)
“Thanks, Mommy! You understood what my tantrum was really about – getting stuff! Screw those child development professionals who say tantrums are about a need for connection, tiredness, hunger, loneliness, or feeling powerless. What do they know anyway?”
Step Three: Repeat step two during the next several tantrums.
Basic behaviorism at work here, folks. Tantrum = toy. Tantrum = toy. These people are geniuses – they’re building in repeat demand for the product. I take away what I just said about them probably not understanding anything about psychology.
Step Four: Once all of the distractions in the box have been used, present the box and crayons as the final distraction.
HOLY MACKEREL, CRAYONS???
Step Five: Refer to our 100 other ways to distract your child for tantrums they have in the future.
Step Six: Start saving for your child’s rehab and therapy now.
Say, this is giving me a great idea for a product of my own.
Introducing…the ADULT TANTRUMBOX®!
-5 mini-bottles of vodka
-10 assorted pills (incl. Vicodin, Xanax, etc.)
-A remote control and a Netflix subscription
-A 5-lb bag of potato chips
-An adult magazine
-A pack of cigarettes and a lighter
-An iPhone with short-cut links to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter
How to use the Adult TantrumBox
Step One: When you are having an adult tantrum, take one item from the box and self-administer.
Step Two: Repeat step one during the next several adult tantrums.
Step Three: Place box over head and try not to contemplate mortality and the utter futility of existence.
As you might have guessed from my scathing commentary, I’m not in favor of deliberately distracting children (or anyone) from a big feeling. Distraction is an ugly thing, and it’s one of the biggest problems our global society is facing today. Resiliency in the face of strong emotions is one of the hallmarks of mental wellness. The ability to pay attention even when things are uncomfortable keeps us grounded and careful in a world full of cheap attention drains. When we distract children (or ourselves, for that matter) from feelings, we are not creating “happy, smiling families.” We are teaching two things (well probably more things, but two important ones):
- Your feelings will destroy you and me.
- The present moment is intolerable.
Relentless distraction breeds a distracted mind, constantly in search of stimulation. See the contents of the Adult TantrumBox for what we eventually need to do to get that level of instantaneous, rapid-fire high. Distracted children become distracted adults. Children that cannot tolerate their feelings become adults that cannot tolerate their feelings. When we cannot tolerate our feelings, we resort to repeatedly drugging ourselves with substances, sex, shopping, screens, snacks, and sleeping, among other vices. We run so fast from our inner experience that we forget why we are running.
But forget all about that for a second. Frankly, at this point, I don’t even care if you use toys to distract your child during a tantrum. I’m more upset that someone thinks making $29.95 (plus $8 shipping) off that choice is a good idea, or in any way ethical. If you want to distract your kid sometimes, that’s fine, but please don’t support this product if that’s your choice. Go get an empty shoebox and $5 worth of cheap toys from the dollar store and be done with it.
Look, I have nothing against entrepreneurs (or, probably in this case, mom-trepreneurs), nor am I out to hurt them as a group. I’m an entrepreneur myself. Most of the time, I work for myself, create my own ideas, and try to make a living off of them.
In fact, because I support entrepreneurialism so much, here’s an easy marketing switch to change your product from one of disconnection to one of connection. Free from me (a child development professional) to you. I’d even endorse it.
Introducing…the SPECIAL TIME BOX®!
How to use the Special Time Box
Step One: Tell your child that you are going to have some special time together!
Step Two: When you are having your special time, present them with one item from the box to use for mutual enjoyment and connection.
Step Three: Repeat step two during the next several special times.
Step Four: Once all of the toys in the box have been used, present the box and crayons as the final special time activity.
Step Five: Enjoy a healthy, connected relationship with your child!
As a thoughtful bonus feature, the friendly folks at TantrumBox invite you to subscribe for savings and tantrum tips! If you’re looking for good advice on the subject, there’s no need to do this. Instead, here’s the best tantrum tip I can offer you, totally free.
Don’t spend 40 bucks on toys to distract your child from a normal, healthy part of their development. Period.
Rebekka Helford is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Los Angeles, California. With over a decade of experience working with parents and young children, Rebekka specializes in short-term intensive parenting consultation, using a variety of tools including home, office, and school visits to help families navigate developmental hiccups and get back on track.
Click here to schedule an appointment or contact Rebekka with a question – who knows, she might even answer it in her next post!