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The Sippy Cup Incident

I was seated in a restaurant when a young family came in.  The toddler was immediately given a cell phone which she manipulated with more dexterity than a concert pianist.  Her phone skills definitely exceeded her walking skills.  When a call came in, her Mother plucked the phone from the child’s hands.  In response, the child hurled her sippy cup across the aisle.  I was splattered and a bit gob smacked.

My parents would not have stood for this.  But these parents?  Dad immediately gave the sippy cup hurler (SCH) his phone.  Thus reinforcing 1) SCH must not be without a phone and 2) hurling a sippy cup is how to get what you want.

Has it come to this?  What will happen when little SCH goes to Grandma’s?  Or gets a job?  Or has a boyfriend break up with her?  Little SCH is developing no coping skills.  Why are depression and anxiety rates skyrocketing for the young?  Well, shucks, people!  It’s because in the real world, you can’t always get what you want by throwing a sippy cup.

Coping skills are acquired when life doesn’t go the way you want, and you have to deal with it.  You might learn patience, or ways to distract yourself, or perhaps how to state your needs more effectively.  But if your well-meaning parents save you from any possible negative experience (including hearing any views that are different from your own), you develop zero coping skills.

Who is the Sippy Cup Hurler in your life?  The employee who gets what s/he wants by sulking or causing drama?  Your Aunt Marge who pouts until you ask what’s wrong?  Let’s put an end to sippy cup hurling today!  Hold people accountable and don’t reward bad behavior!  You are not doing them any favors.  Aunt Marge can’t pout when she goes to the Doctor and expect him/her to take that as a clue to delve deeper into her psyche.  Every time you let a person get away with bad behavior, you are just increasing the likelihood that you’ll get more.  It’s not helping them grow and it’s unfair to everyone else.  Why should they get splattered?

Be calm, be wise.  You may have to walk little SCH out of the restaurant/meeting.  You have to risk upsetting them.  Clearly and non-emotionally define the behavior you expect.  Reward the desired behavior.  (Yes, even if you are rewarding the lack of a tantrum.) It will take time and patience to eradicate sippy cup hurling, but I hope you’ll join the fight.  It really is for their own good.