Temper tantrums. How many times have we been told that kids stage them to get something they want, that they are trying to manipulate us, and that we should just let them cry and ignore them? I know I have heard that advice before. You know what’s worse? When my first child was about 2, she had her first full-blown tantrum. And I’d just read something of that sort in some mainstream parenting magazine that day, and I ignored her. It was awful, I knew in my heart I was doing something wrong because she just wouldn’t stop screaming and wouldn’t get up. At some point I had enough and finally picked my child up, because clearly this terrible advice wasn’t working, and my kid didn’t look like someone trying to prove some weird point. My poor daughter was having a problem and I was feeling helpless. I needed to find a different way of dealing with it. And that was the day I started researching alternative parenting methods you don’t find in mainstream magazines, and that day I discovered Positive Parenting. That tantrum was a wake up call for me, and I am so happy I listened to my inner voice and not that stupid magazine. I think that was also the day I stopped reading those altogether.
We should always try to understand why our kids do certain things before jumping to conclusions, or getting irritated and angry at them for the things they do. Children have their reasons, toddlers have them too, they just can’t explain them verbally yet. A lot of things make a world of difference to a child, no matter how silly and insignificant it seems to us. We should try to be more flexible, try to see their point, be more understanding and compassionate in general, and be willing to improvise if we have to.
Just one example that taught me a lot about listening more. My son was not 2 years old yet and he couldn’t talk well. Then, one day this spring, my husband took his lawnmower out for the first time this year. My son had a fit, he would scream and run towards it, and want to use it, and cry because we couldn’t let him, obviously. This lasted for a few hours and everyone was getting stressed and tired, especially my son.
This is something I learned through my own experience. When I am in a crappy mood I see how it affects my kids and their behavior. They start acting the same way, which doesn’t really help anyone, only makes it worse for all of us. As hard as it is trying to control your mood on some days, especially, it is worth trying, still. Great when you naturally feel joyful and involve kids in your happiness. And when you don’t, taking a few minutes here and there to take those few deep breaths away from others does magic. When you feel like you are, more or less, your cheerful self again, go back and give them a hug. They will appreciate the effort. And, most importantly, you will appreciate it yourself when you notice the positive difference it makes in everyone’s day.
Having said this, I am more referring to people lashing out on their children all the time when they are having a hard time, without even trying to assess the situation and how it affects them. Sometimes we have to be honest with our children to show them that we are human with out feelings and bad hair days. I know reasonable people have ways of conveying their true feelings to their kids without causing them too much physical or mental harm. Being honest with kids on their level is always good, but being conscious of our own feelings first before letting it out on others is another thing. I am not advocating for lying to our kids about our feelings. I always explain to my 4 y/o when she sees me ‘grumpy’ (her word about my moodiness) that I am tired, or I didn’t get enough sleep, etc. and she understands. I just want people to stop and analyze for a second before affecting others, and I see it a lot in public, and kids have to pay. THAT is what could and should be changed.
Photo: Lee Davenport (Flickr)
Sharing. The hardest thing to referee, to teach, and to peacefully resolve during play dates. Right? Or maybe it doesn’t have to be so hard? The article below from Janet Lansbury is a great explanation of how children work, and how parents should trust them more. I wish I had more opportunities to try it in real life but, unfortunately, other parents often intervene before the kids even had time to realize what was happening, and had a chance to try to resolve it on their own. I am trying this at home a lot though with both my children. I try to lead by example and share with them myself, and thank them when one of them makes a kind gesture and gives up a toy he/she is done with. Doesn’t always happen without too much fuss and noise, but that is the beauty of learning together with my children, and learning to trust them more. Continue reading
Another eye-opening article from Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare™. I was just learning all these things when I read it first and it made a lot of sense. I know we all feel tempted to distract a child when he is upset, but do we really have to? What are we trying to reach by keeping the child from experiencing his own feelings fully and learning from them? Think about it.
“I may be overly sensitive, but it even bothers me when I see an adult smiling at a crying, upset or sad child. Why do we want to manipulate young children’s moods and feelings?” -Magda Gerber
I have been searching for a good article on why “hugging it out during tantrums” works but couldn’t find anything better than this story. I myself started hugging my 3 y/o during tantrums about a year ago (provided she let me), and I have noticed a huge difference in the amount of time it took to help her calm down. It also helped me feel good about myself when instead of screaming or getting mad at her, I just hugged her. It made me feel good showing her how much I loved her even when others thought she didn’t deserve it at that very moment. One year later now, she comes to me randomly asking for hugs, or offers hugs when mommy is feeling “grumpy”, and I can not even remember when she had a huge tantrum last time, not bragging here but being honest. Would I go back to my old ways of getting angry at her behavior? NEVER! Hugging definitely beats any violent response to almost any kid-related tough moment.