We all have good and fond memories of our childhood, but we do not hold onto memories of our childhood tantrums now, and neither do our parents, unless that incident was on a really huge scale. They may tell us a story or two in a light manner about how we threw a tantrum to have ice cream during the rainy season. Even then, the memory of it would fade away with the passing years for all the involved parties.
Tantrums are a part and parcel of everyone’s childhood. They happen all of a sudden and they pass. They would have begun for candy, permission to go to a birthday party, or for skipping out on homework or school. It may be for anything that we even least expect. The way tantrums are handled by the adults in the family matters a lot. The handling and aftermath of tantrums can leave long-lasting effects on the child when not done constructively. Here’s a look into what should not be done when our kid throws a tantrum:
Don’t Take It Personally
When your child throws a tantrum in a public place and everyone around stares at you, you may feel embarrassed and even feel like you are a bad parent. But do not take it personally and blame or guilt-trip yourself. Your child may have just gotten upset or overwhelmed by some external stimuli, and it has nothing to do with your parenting skills. They may even say something to you that they do not mean. Well, we all do that when we are angry. So do not take anything to heart. They do not hate you nor are you a terrible parent. Calm yourself first. We do know this part is very tough but it is essential.
We tend to have this as our first reaction when a tantrum is ongoing. But yelling at them when they are already emotionally overwhelmed will only trigger them more. They may start yelling back or do something that makes the tantrum go downhill. So talk to them in a calm tone, as and when needed. For example, if the tantrum is for not eating their meal, then try to calmly tell them it is necessary to eat their food to get the energy to play whichever sports/games they love.
Bribing your child with some of their favorite items may just be a temporary solution. It may be easy to get your child to calm down on the promise of chocolate or a trip to their favorite gaming center/restaurant. It will only make them think that they can get what they want at the end of each tantrum, which will complicate their behavior in the future. It is better to avoid using such tricks to calm them down.
Avoid Making Fun Of Them
It may seem like a good idea to make light of the tense situation by laughing or cracking jokes at your child. But this method will just prove counterproductive as it makes your child feel that their feelings are something to be laughed at and not taken seriously. They may take this up as an example and behave similarly with others in the future. Hence, it is better to avoid making fun of them during tantrums.
Do Not Physically Punish Them
As Indians and South Asians, we have been brought up in a culture that makes physical punishment okay in many households and educational institutions. Only now, have we all learned about the negative repercussions that physical punishments cause. People are trying to consciously leave behind this toxic method of discipline.
Many adults who have had abusive childhoods themselves may tend to repeat the same with their kids. It is time to break the cycle. Instead of physically hitting your child, try to handle the tantrum calmly. It is helpful to imagine how you had wanted your parents to handle you in your childhood days and do that with your kid. Show kindness and compassion.
Don’t Dismiss Or Invalidate What They Feel
Invalidating/dismissing the feelings of a child has also been a toxic parenting trait in our country, especially when it comes to a tantrum related to them feeling uncomfortable with some family member/attending a family event, or going to school or any place. Instead of invalidating their feelings of discomfort, try to talk to them and try to find the root cause.
For example, a child who has been sexually, mentally, or physically assaulted by an adult in the family/friends circle or at a school/tuition center may throw a tantrum to go back to the same situation/place. Or the child may be bullied daily at school by their classmates or seniors. They may not be able to express their discomfort or fear directly and that may lead to a temper tantrum, due to immense frustration and fear in them. Instead of saying “You are imagining things” or “You’re just doing this to not study”, try to ask “Is anything or anybody bothering you?” or “Has anything happened to you that you want to talk to us about? We are here to listen .” They may open up when they know they have a safe space to talk and you will be getting to the root cause.
While these are some of the things that are to be avoided during your child’s tantrums, we are going to come up with tips on how to handle them too. Stay tuned and happy parenting.