It’s popularly said that toddlers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. So are their tantrums! When the ‘terrible twos’ started in our zone, I believed it is going to get alright at three, well at four, maybe five, perhaps…….and one day it dawned to me that humans make tantrums almost at all stages of life. Toddlers maybe throwing temper tantrums, rolling on the floor and not caring who is watching them where, but adults do it almost in a similar way minus the rolling on the floor and a little watchful of the who’s watching where.
From 1st to 30th April, I write one post a day on The Things that really matter to Children. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see the complete list of posts in the series.
T for Tantrums: It’s acknowledgement not reformation that matters to Children
I remember how much I bothered my parents when they wanted to get me married. I was carelessly rejecting every application on my desk and now when I look back, I realize how pathetic it must have been for them to endure my tantrums at that age. They were relieved after my marriage because my tantrum target had moved to the new comer – yes, the husband! If you have old people at home, you will know their tantrums are no better than a child’s. As a child, as a teenager, as a spouse, as a parent – we often express our emotions distastefully to people we live with. Let’s acknowledge, all of us throw tantrums!
How just is it then to get frustrated, blame or punish two-year olds for their tantrums?
Young children are still trying to understand people and things around them. They are still figuring out if clouds have life because they move and if pigs can speak because Peppa is a pig. Their perception of what is possible and what is not is still not complete. Everything is work in progress in their little minds.
On the other hand, we, the parents are dealing with a multitude of adult problems while overlooking the fact that we ourselves do not have a complete perception of people and things around us. Can you predict how you would react if your husband were to come late for a long-awaited movie date? Can you predict how easy it will be for you to see a messy and overflowing lunch dabba packed with rasam rice by your wife, when you have just five minutes for a call?
And imagine the second category of incomplete learners, that is, the so-called ‘adults’ were to deal with the first category of incomplete learners, ‘the children’!
Terrible, isn’t it? So, now we know why we call them ‘terrible two’s!’ 😆
By throwing tantrums, children find a way to vent out emotions of stress, anger and frustration built in them. These may sound like big terms to describe a two-year old’s psychology though may not necessarily point to disturbing events. The trigger maybe something as simple as hunger and sleepiness, yet to them, it could be frustrating to bear hunger and sleepiness for long.
So, when they are trying to express their emotions, if we were to yell at them, blame them of bad behavior, punish them with time-outs or deprive them of the love and acknowledgment they need at the moment, we are actually rejecting their emotions. We are repeatedly pointing out that their only known method of expressing emotions is wrong, bad and shameful.
When we get this into our heads, we would exactly know what to do the next time they throw their hands and feet into the air refusing to come out of the shop. We see a child’s tantrums as a problem, as something to reform, correct and set right because we haven’t learnt our syllabus well. If we understood our roles and responsibilities well, we would know how to respond to a child when he or she is upset instead of breaking our minds apart. From a child’s point of view, when they throw a tantrum they have a problem and they want their parents to address it instead of treating them as a problem. What matters to a troubled child is acceptance of his emotions!
Well, you acknowledge your child’s emotions. How do you deal next?
Sorry, it’s your parenting journey, no one else can walk it through for you. By the way, if you think it’s only two which is terrible, let me tell you three is troublesome after which it’s always terrible and troublesome 😆 And if you have more than one child, multiply it all by that number. Happy parenting, folks!
Note: Tantrums in children who fall within a spectrum or have DMDD may need to be dealt within added sensitivity and care and is out of scope of this post.
Header Image Courtesy – CHW
List of posts in the Series