The temper tantrum. As parents, we’ve all been there. The child who doesn’t listen or who is engaging in a power struggle is often difficult to handle. Besides the fact that tantrums are loud, annoying, and embarrassing, we often feel it’s our job requirement to make our kids act the way we feel they should behave — at all times.
But many parents don’t want to deal with tantrums. Being too hard on their kids might “damage” their children’s spirit.
“Being empathetic, loving, calm, and connected is not always easy when your own nervous system and emotions are being rattled during your child’s tantrum,” says Elaine Fogel Schneider, author of the Amazon bestseller “7 Strategies for Raising Calm, Inspired & Successful Children.”
“[Parents] don’t want to engage in anything that may make them feel uncomfortable or require a lot of effort,” she told LifeZette.
What happened to the days when parents didn’t kowtow to their children? It’s not an easy concept in the fragile biosphere of “modern” parenting. But unless we want to create a new generation of little emperors, the tantrums have to stop, Schneider says. Parents need to help their children get a handle on the emotional needs they’ll need to make it in life outside the family nest.
Schneider shared more of her thoughts in an interview.
Question: Why don’t some parents want to deal with temper tantrums?
Answer: Dealing with a temper tantrum requires lots of patience, and some parents are so stressed and rushed with their own daily routines that they don’t have the patience to deal with a tantrum. Having to stop and deal with the tantrum may interfere with their own timeline and so to save time and not having the hassle of dealing with the tantrum, they find it easier to give in.
Q: How can parents help their kids get a handle on their emotional needs?
A: Parents can do this by acknowledging that their children have emotions, by giving words to the emotions they see their child exhibiting, and offering ways of dealing with the situation. You can say, “It looks like you’re feeling mad” or “It looks like you’re feeling sad today” … Try not to squelch them or pretend they don’t exist, which only builds up the emotions until they just want to explode.
Ignoring a tantrum will not make the feelings go away.
Then, acknowledge that there are different ways to cope with emotional needs and each person is unique. For example, some children may do best to get away from others and go to their room to unwind or into their special indoor tent. Some may prefer going to a dance class or a swimming class. Other children will benefit from a massage to relax their muscles and reduce their stress or listen to music or read a book. As parents, we best serve our children by assisting them in realizing their own emotional needs and the best ways to handle their emotions
Q: Is it ever acceptable for a parent to ignore a child’s temper tantrum?
A: When a parent is going to lose it and finds herself upset and harried — as long as their child is in a safe place and will not do harm to himself – it may be better to ignore their child’s temper tantrum until the child calms and the parent regains her own calm demeanor. Additionally, when a temper tantrum occurs around something that is not negotiable — like buckling a seat belt in the car — ignoring the temper tantrum may be the only way to keep the seat belt buckled.
When a child is displaying a frustration tantrum, that means there is some inner struggle taking place with emotions that are unclear. You do not want to ignore the tantrum, as your child needs to make sense of his or her emotions and together work on problem solving and let your child tell his or her story. You may ignore the tantrum, and it may disappear; however, it is important to find out what is causing the tantrums in the first place.
Q: What will happen to kids as they grow up if parents ignore tantrums?
A: Ignoring a tantrum will not make the feelings go away, which caused the tantrum in the first place. You may walk away from a tantrum — however, you cannot walk away from the needs of your child. If parents ignore tantrums, kids will not learn what triggered those tantrums and will not learn successful ways to cope with and handle their emotions.
A two-year-old kid who has a tantrum, flailing his arms as he is lying on the floor of the grocery store because he couldn’t get the ice cream bars he wanted, may begin throwing objects at people as a seven-year old when he cannot get his way — and do more damage when he is a teenager because he never figured out acceptable ways of embracing and managing his emotions.
Q: Will kids eventually grow out of temper tantrums?
A: A temper tantrum may take on other forms as children learn about their emotions, gain words to express themselves, and learn strategies for self-regulation. A child learns that he has emotions and that when he is upset there are different ways of handling those emotions. So, yes, kids will eventually grow out of temper tantrums, usually by three to four years of age, as they gain words to express their feelings and learn coping strategies.