Let Them Have Their Temper Tantrums!!
By Linda Milo
Children between the ages of one and seven are open to emotional hurts. Temper tantrums are a way a young child expresses his frustration over a situation or a person. When your child feels thwarted, he feels many mixed emotions. Usually temper tantrums are brought about by stress. This stress is anything that disrupts the normal balance of the body. There are two types of stressors: the physical and the psychological. These stressors cause your child to feel a sense of anxiety, confusion, frustration, sadness, and anger. When a child feels out of control and not in balance, your child will react with a temper tantrum, whining, or teasing to get their way. This is a part of living and growing up.
Understandably, parents make an effort to keep stressful situations out of their child’s life, but this is easier said than done. Even changing a simple routine in a child’s life can create a tantrum.
Thank goodness, children have ways of overcoming the stress in their lives. They do this by crying, screaming, talking, playing and laughter. These stress-releasing mechanisms help your child cope each day. When your child accidentally breaks his favorite truck, he will cry and perhaps show rage. He is feeling despair at his loss. Crying is a very important way for your child to get out of his system the hurt and disappointment he feels. Crying energy helps your child to reduce the tension he feels, the stress he feels, plus lowers his blood pressure and heart rate. This is beneficial to his entire bodily system. Parents should try to allow their child to cry out their misery rather than repress these feelings. Repressed feelings usually bring about physical illnesses and behavioral problems down the road. Most parents understand this and give their child love and support to their child in this type of situation.
But what if your child has temper tantrums and you can’t understand why your child is carrying on? What can you do when your child is experiencing a temper tantrum because he didn’t get his own way? Being with a crying child usually makes parents feel angry, powerless, anxious and impatient. When you find yourself in this type of situation and you are facing your child’s explosion, try these three tips to create an emotional safety catch for both you and your child:
► Become immediately relaxed – hum a little tune to yourself and thereby distance yourself from any emotional stress you may be feeling toward your child. Your child needs unconditional love and acceptance, not unconditional attention based on his crying. Your child will release his feelings more effectively if he knows that you accept and acknowledge him as he is crying, kicking, screaming, or flinging himself onto the floor. This keeps the very important emotional connection with your child strong while your child is experiencing his temper tantrum.
► Once you feel relaxed, tell your child (not by criticizing or threatening) that you understand he is upset. You can’t dodge all temper tantrums, but you can tell your child that once he is finished with his crying, you would be happy to talk with him. Now go about your own business, doing anything that brings you comfort, and behave as if the tantrum is not affecting you and your inner balance.
By paying attention to your child’s undesirable behavior, you are actually encouraging your child to continue his performance. Giving in to temper tantrums and other demands causes these misbehaviors to increase in the future. When a child knows there is a pay-off (like a reward or bribe offered in attempting to guide your misbehaving child into good behavior) for out-bursts, a pattern develops which is usually very difficult to change. Your child may learn that one way to get a treat is by acting unhappy and having bouts of temper tantrums. Don’t reward this behavior because then you would be rewarding his unhappiness and this would only encourage him to exhibit this behavior over and over again. Your child would then learn to manipulate you and your actions.
► When your child cools off, or even if the tantrum continues for a long time, pop in to wherever your child is crying and suggest something fun you can both do together. Speak softly and slowly and tell your child that as soon as he is done, you are ready to play with him. Your patience is what your child needs at this time.
By following these three tips, you are acknowledging your child’s feelings of despair, you are attending to your own needs by not getting sucked into an emotional roller coaster, and you are communicating to your child that by not paying attention to his words and actions of undesirable behavior, you are still around and willing to give him love and support once it is out of his system.
Copyright © 2006 by Linda Milo and Empowering Parents Now. All rights reserved.
Linda Milo, The Parent-Child Connection Coach, specializes in helping mothers and fathers turn their parenting challenges into a more livable, more workable, and more enjoyable family life. Her FREE better-parenting newsletter covers specific, proven, and immediately usable methods for overcoming the most common parenting challenges. Visit http://www.empoweringparentsnow.com to subscribe to her FREE newsletter and also sign up for a free 45 minute consultation to learn to parent with less stress.
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