Tantrum Surprise Ending
We’ve all seen them….tantrums on the playground, in the grocery store, in a car, at someone’s house…..they make their mark and stand out in their own boisterous way. Tantrums frighten and anger those who don’t understand that young children will experiment with tantrums to figure out if they’re a tool to continue manipulating others and circumstances, a way to feel and hear the power of their own little beings, or just a release for the frustration of not knowing how to communicate properly.
Lacking in enough verbal skills to thoroughly express feelings and needs, a tantrum can really be viewed as a pressure release valve.
Tantrums can even frighten the tantrum thrower! The power of the screaming, kicking, hitting the floor, rolling around, shaking the head wildly….can be literally breathtaking and overwhelming. The duration of a tantrum can be seconds or minutes. To the onlooking adult, seconds can feel like minutes and minutes can feel like an hour, especially if the child has chosen to throw the fit in a public arena when everyone stares.
What to do: Depending on what your goal is with your child, you will make a choice to handle the tantrum in a specific way. First and foremost, keep safety in mind for the child, not allowing any flailing or tantrum expressions to possibly be dangerous or harmful next to sharp objects, etc. If so, physically removing the child and placing child in a safe place works fine, explaining the other area was not safe for a tantrum. Boy, will that ever wake someone up! 🙂
Know your goal. If you prioritize not wanting to be embarrassed, you will act accordingly for your own needs and may miss an opportunity to help your child grow in this situation. If you intend for the child to understand the tantrum will NOT control or manipulate you to get her/his way, you will remain calm, strong and follow through properly. Remaining calm with deep breathing is an essential ingredient here.
If you don’t care about your child’s learning in this situation and just want her/him to be quiet, giving in to demands, the tantrum may end more quickly but you put into motion a kettle that is brewing with trouble for the future.
When my grandson had just turned 2, we were at a public children’s activity center playing with a train set. As the time approached to leave, he simply laid down on the floor on his back, kicking and hitting the floor, eyes scrunched and tense while screaming. He kept looking at me to see what I was doing. Instead of ignoring him after checking his safety with surroundings, I just stood there, about three feet away, and looked down, right into his eyes. No expression. Just stared at him, as others in the vicinity were doing, as well as staring at me.
Grayson’s tantrum volume and aggression lasted for maybe a minute and a half at high gear, then he began to wind down, especially with my lack of reacting and looking into his eyes. He was surprised. Soon he simply petered out and was lying on the floor, just staring back at me. In a split second, there was a twinkling in his eyes as he continued staring into my eyes and he started laughing. So did I. It was as if we both knew what he was doing was absurd and certainly wasn’t going to extend the playtime because I was keeping my word that we would be leaving. The laugh we shared at that moment was priceless. His toddler mind and my Grandma Boom mind connected in a wonderful way.
Grayson stood up, still laughing. I gave him a hug and said, “Throwing a tantrum doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t get you what you want. Let’s go, kokomo, time to go home.” He hugged me back and went peacefully.
Parenting young children during tantrums can be challenging and uncomfortable. Dealt with properly, it’s not a stage that will last forever. Be patient with yourself and know that by your remaining calm with children and stress in tantrum times, you will serve both of you in a growthful manner. Yes, even Superkids experiment with tantrums. But true Superkids outgrow that kind of experimenting with the proper guidance.