Kids chuck a lot of tantrums for a lot of different reasons. Unfortunately, a lot of these reasons seem to get lost in translation and simply leave parents feeling lost and defeated.
We often interpret our children’s screams and death threats and wails as a direct attack at our parenting. And indeed, with all that melodrama, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the world was legitimately ending. And that you really are the worst parent. And that you are mean, and that they do hate you.
But they don’t
Far from it. And we saw a good meme (of all things!) the other day that helped put all our toddler tantrum internal conflict into perspective:
We need to change our thinking
If you think about it, it’s all true.
When are the main times your toddler goes absolutely ballistic? It’s after a big day at kindergarten. Or as their little legs have become exhausted after a long walk through the supermarket. Or after they didn’t get their way and they can feel their blood boiling but they don’t know how to let it go.
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Our kids aren’t trying to manipulate us through their outbursts. They aren’t trying to be bad. They just need help expressing what they’re actually feeling – because they’re trying to tell us something they haven’t learnt the words for yet.
The sooner we tap into this way of thinking about tantrums, the more likely we’ll find ways to help our kids navigate them in the future (and the less awful we’ll feel).
“I love you and feel safe with you”
Of all the dot points, we’re particularly going to try to take the last four on board.
Our kids aren’t trying to drive us mad, and they need us to remain calm so that they have time to work through some complex feelings. During a tantrum, they’re looking to us for guidance, for reassurance, and for help – even if that’s not what it sounds like – and how we react will impact how they act the next time these feelings arise.
Above all, we need to remember that they show us their worst behaviour because we are their safe space. The person they can show all their emotions to. The person they love most.