Taming Tantrums

Parenting a child is most likely the most rewarding, yet challenging job you will ever have in your life.  You're entering unchartered territory.  Likely, you'll have had ideas on how you will raise your child and what values, limits and rules you will have,  but .......... that's before your child arrives.   Most parents can probably relate to the temptation to start throwing their own hissy fit when their child is throwing a wobbler and resembles something out of a horror movie.  And let's face it - it happens some times.  We end up having our very own melt down. 


Wobblers are a natural and normal part of development in a toddler.  How else can a toddler learn how to assert himself?   He knows what he wants but might not necessarily have the language to communicate it.  Throwing a wobbler gives him a chance to vent his frustration and interestingly, gives us an opportunity to develop our parenting skills - ahem ...... gradually.


If you seach through your catalogue of your children's most memorable and sensational wobblers - I mean the ones you an laugh at now, you'll probably come to the conclusion that they were more likely to happen when you had very little control over the situation or your own emotions at the time - when you were vulnerable or stressed out yourself. We've all witnessed toddlers experiencing a melt down at the check-out where all of the nice shiny confectionery sits screaming "pick me"   "pick me" and if we are not secretly thinking - thank God it's not mine today, we're quietly empathizing with the adult trying their best to get to the front door, with groceries and a wailing child.  


The amazing thing about tantrums is that we as adults are likely to reflect back the exact same behaviour to our children when uder pressure.  So, if we want our chidren to behave, we have to behave in a way that is exemplary for them, but realistic for us.  It doesn't mean that we won't get upset or frustrated, but how we deal with our emotions is key.  


To demonstrate why this is so important - think about the times when you open your mouth and your own Mother or Father comes out.  We become reflections of our own parents and some of the ways in which they parented us. Come on,  I know you can relate.  Behaviours in our children that tick us off or make us feel proud are most likely reflective of our own ways of being.


You know that button?  the one that's like your funny bone - some-one hits it and there's an immediate reaction, except it's not funny.  Every toddler, child and adolescent knows that button.  Well,  they don't, but we might be forgiven as as parents for believing that they have some super natural power and do at times.   When your child throws a wobbler and you react instantaneously you deny yourself and him an opportunity to connect with each other in a positive way and to deal with it in an adult state.  A power struggle begins and everyone ends up feeling like rubbish.  


Of course Rome wans't built in a day and learning how to react calmly is a skill that requires practice and plenty of self-care too.  


If you want to avoid falling into the tantrum trap make a few committments to yourself.  Evaluate your self-awareness, check in with yourself and if you feel that it's going to be a stressful day find a few minutes every few hours to de-stress - just breathe.   Get out with your little one - get away from all the household chores and responsibilities for a while.  Nurture your belief in your parenting skills - you can do it.  Focus on his or her positive behaviour - trust me there is plenty of it and if you zero in on the positive behaviour you'll see more of it.  And remember, every time your child has a tantrum he's just trying so very hard to become some-one who is independent - teach him how. 


County Kerry

Deanah McCormack

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