Parenting is hard: Even tantrums offer teachable moments for toddlers … when we keep our cool
My two-year-old son just finished what felt like an hour-long tantrum right before falling asleep for the night. I’m not sure exactly how long it lasted. I prefer not to look at the clock during those moments. I’d rather not invite myself to feel like I am missing out on something else (time alone). Or feel rushed and anxious.
I’d rather, during those moments, immerse myself in the moment (you read that right) and focus on my inner calm. When a tantrum starts to form. The following is a checklist to go through when you sense a tantrum coming on. And a list of the positive outcomes of a tantrum.
Children learn to regulate their emotions through their primary attachment figures, usually mom and dad. Tantrums are one of the early truest tests of parents. They tend to occur between 18 months and 3 years of age. Those are the months they are digging in their heels and asserting themselves as separate from their parents. When this stage goes well, they emerge knowing that they can get what they want in cooperation with mom and dad getting what they want. Usually. Children don’t always want things that are reasonable. I tune in to myself and check my emotional regulation. Are my breaths deep and slow? How is my heart rate? Are my muscles tense? If I find that I am tense and anxious, I bring myself to
Even during the challenging moments that seem to be designed to make us miserable, we can teach our children valuable lessons. These are the lessons, however, that can only be taught through experience. They are remembered somatically. And felt as a sense of security.
The lessons are as follows in no particular order.
- I can feel and express all my feelings.
- My parents (eventually others) can handle my feelings.
- My feelings won’t destroy me.
- I can feel my feelings and be safe.
- I can feel what I feel while my parents feel what they feel.
- There are boundaries.
- My parents hold the boundaries.
- The boundaries keep me safe.
- I can’t get what I want by being loud and obnoxious.
- My parents are in control.
- My parents can think and feel at the same time.
- My parents won’t let me hit them.
- My parents won’t let me myself.
- My parents won’t let me hit my siblings.
- My parents won’t hit me.
- People are not for hitting.