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The Smoking Toddler's Tips for Tantrums

By paulabernstein |

Can you believe it’s been a full month since we first learned about Aldi Rizal (a.k.a. Ardi), the two-year-old Indonesian boy who chain-smokes cigarettes?

Understandably, parents, in particular, were outraged at the sight of the toddler sucking in nicotine. Reports later surfaced that he had cut back on his cigarette habit. But CBS News recently tracked him down in Indonesia and found that he’s still puffing away.

Initially, the media reported that the boy’s father gave him his first cigarette at 18 months. But CBS News says that he picked up the dirty habit when he was left on his own at the marketplace where his parents sell fish. His mother, Dinai, said she found him smoking one day.

“He already knew how to do it very well, like an adult. … It was actually his own wish,” she said.

Soon, Aldi was addicted and was smoking more than 40 cigarettes a day, often using one cigarette to light the next.

His mother feels helpless when it comes to making him stop. ”Nowadays, he smokes one pack a day, two packs at most. … We surely hope he will quit, that he will be like any other kid, not smoking. … But I can’t stand seeing him hurting himself. What can we do but to accept it is as it is?” she asked.

Aldi throws violent tantrums when he can’t smoke and becomes sick from withdrawl if his cigarettes are taken away. What’s a parent to do? Because of the tremendous publicity surrounding Aldi, he and his family are in a rehab program sponsored by the Indonesian government.

Aldi’s situation is so extreme. Is there anything parents can learn from him?

CBS News’  “Early Show” contributor Dr. Jennifer Hartstein, a child and adolescent psychologist, says it’s up to parents to address and even prevent their children’s tantrums.

Tips for Dealing with Tantrums:

1. Ignore a child who is having a tantrum (I know it’s easier said than done, but do your best). If they aren’t getting your attention, they may give up.

2. Try to stay calm. If you get angry, it just makes things worst. Take a deep breath and step away for a moment.

3. Be consistent. Set the rules and make sure your kids know the consequences.

4. Pay attention to what causes tantrums. A tired and hungry kid is more likely to throw a tantrum. So try not to overschedule and bring a snack if you think they might get hungry.

5. Praise and reward good behavior.

6. Give children choices since they increase a sense of control.

7. Distract your child from whatever it is they want at the moment.

Let’s hope that Aldi’s parents are learning these approaches in family rehab. The next time that one of my girls freaks out because she can’t have a lollipop or a TV show she wants, I’m going to think of Aldi and try to keep things in perspective.

Photo: Hindustan Times

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About paulabernstein



Paula Bernstein is a freelance writer and social media manager with a background in entertainment journalism. She is also the co-author of Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited.

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