Each and Every Parent goes through a period of tantrum handling. (In fact , my 20 month old daughter is lying on ground right besides my chair right now, throwing a tantrum, demanding that I hand the computer over to her immediately). Each and every child throws a tantrum once in a while. It's a natural way of communicating extreme feelings for kids, who have not developed adequate speech skills yet! However natural it might be, it still manages to throw parents out of gear, and the feelings range from desperation to ashamedness and anger. It's takes a big heart and some knowledge of tantrums to handle the situation correctly.
As any parent would vouch for, children throw tantrum when you most want them to be well behaved. In a shop grocery shopping, in a fine dining restaurant or when you have an important phone call to attend to. They instinctively seem to realize that mom/dad is not completely available to me at this point of time, and immediately demands that attention!! While shopping, kids often act up asking for one, or one hundred different candies or toys or so on. In fact, if observed carefully, we find that tantrums come mostly when the child is tired, exhausted , hungry , sleepy, bored, or even over-stimulated. It is just that these little adults are trying to exercise their power of choice, which they don't have. It is a frustrating , confusing world for them, a world where mom and dad impose their will on him all the time. He wants to be an unique individual in his own right, and the process is more difficult for him than it is for you. Be sympathetic.
Be sympathetic. Easier said than done, of course. However there are a few dos and don'ts that can help you sail through 'quietly' through this turbulent period :
- Precaution is better than cure . Try stopping a tantrum before it starts. Keep in mind the limits of your child while planning a day out. Keep in mind that he might be tired after a movie, and going grocery shopping then is like sending an invitation to the tantrums. In a shop, if their demand is reasonable and not outrageous, maybe it can be accepted.
- When the tantrums do start, as they invariably will at times, remember that it is not a time to loose your cool. Be calm. Let the child go through it safely. If you, an adult, are not able to control your emotions, can you expect more from your kid ?
- Do not worry about onlookers. Those who have kids would understand, Those who don't, will understand later when they do have one. Remember, kids with a tantrum are not bad, they are just 'over-worked'. They deserve firm love, not another scolding.
- Do not give in to their demand. Your response would determine future frequency of the tantrums. Do not make tantrums a rewarding experience for them. The difference between a boy who keeps asking for gratifications to a mall (I want this, and that , and thaaaaat) and a boy who calmly goes through it, is whether their parents gave in to their tantrums when the boys were 2 years old, or not)
- Voice what the child is going through, and what he wants. 'Oh!! You're so upset, because you want that Barbie, aren't you??' It helps them in two ways: One, they know that the parents understands their demand and feelings, and secondly, they learn to put feelings in words for the next time.
- Give moderate amount of choice. So don't say: 'What do you want for dinner?' (for your own sake!) but ' Do you want parantha or rice today?'
Kids eventually grow out of tantrums, as they develop better strategies to get stuff out of their parents. (Yeah! That's true, it never stops!!) So just take it as another developmental milestone and do not attach extra importance to it.