DEAR ABBY: "Outraged in Reno" wrote that her sister-in-law had a spoiled 2-year-old daughter who threw temper tantrums in order to get her own way, so she consulted a pediatrician. He advised her to splash cold water on the child's face to bring her out of it. You recommended getting another pediatrician. Why? That was excellent advice.
In the 1930s, three of us girl cousins, who were close as sisters, had baby boys within a few months of each other. We were also neighbors and the boys were raised like brothers.One day, my 21/2-year-old son had a temper tantrum and proceeded to beat his head against the floor until his nose bled! I panicked and consulted our family doctor. He told me that the next time the child had a tantrum, I should pick him up, put him face down in the sink and turn cold water on his head - just enough to shut him up.
I followed his advice, and it worked! My cousins followed that advice, and it worked for them, too. Today, one son is a successful cattle dealer, another is a physician, and my son is a nuclear research engineer. - K.W. IN ARIZONA
DEAR K.W.: Yours was only one of an outpouring of letters telling me that my advice was all wet. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I support the pediatrician's cold-water treatment. Thirty-three years ago, when our eldest son was 3 years old and having temper tantrums, I was nine months pregnant with our third child. Our pediatrician suggested the cold-water splash and it worked splendidly. The child was sufficiently shocked by the wordless treatment and the tantrums ceased immediately. He turned out quite well. Today he is an orthopedic surgeon. - CHUCKLING IN NORTHBROOK, ILL.
DEAR ABBY: I disagree with your advice to change pediatricians. What better way is there to get a child's attention without raising your voice or using corporal punishment? Splashing cold water in a child's face is not cruel or violent.
If more frustrated parents used this method of calming a child down, it could reduce child abuse. - CHERYL IN ROSWELL, GA.
DEAR ABBY: I'm a 42-year-old lawyer and the father of three. My mother told me that when was I was about 3 years old, I was in the kitchen, screaming, kicking and giving her a bad time. My father heard the racket in the next room, came into the kitchen, got a bucket, filled it with cold water and emptied it over my head, saying, "This should cool him off for a while." - BALTIMORE ATTORNEY
DEAR ABBY: Obviously you have never seen a small child lose control during a temper tantrum. I have. The child becomes so hysterical he cannot catch his breath - then he turns purple and passes out. It is very frightening.
Bless that doctor who suggested splashing cold water in the child's face. It's better to interrupt the tantrum before the child gets completely out of control. It also beats the other alternative - giving in to the child's every whim in order to avoid a tantrum. - NO MORE TANTRUMS IN TEXAS
(C) 1989 Universal Press Syndicate