A blog post circled around social media last week about “Kids Losing it Over Nothing” and I found this post INFURIATING!
I understand that moms like to share photos of their kids having tantrums because they like to know they’re not the only ones experiencing these; however, toddlers do NOT throw tantrums over “nothing”, nor is it ever a “phase”. Toddlers, like adults, have needs that need to be met, but they lack the ability to verbalize their needs and a tantrum often results, but it’s our job to try to identify the feeling behind their tantrum and show them empathy and understanding.
I’ve borrowed a few of the photos featured in the blog and I’ve idetified the feeling behind the child’s actions and added how a parent could respond in this instance.
Toddlers are concrete thinkers. What we say is taken very literally and they lack the ability to think into the future. Everything is right now, in this moment, and it’s finite. When this child was told, “No more bacon” she heard “You will never get any more bacon for the rest of your life”. How devestated would you be if you thought you could never have any more of something you loved?
The parent should have offered a choice from the beginning, “Today, you may have one piece or two pieces. Which do you choose?” This way, when the child says “Two”, mom is okay with that decision and so is the child. The child made the choice.
2. This child clearly has a plan. He’d like to move the chair, but there’s something in his way. He can’t tell the dog to move, the dog isn’t moving when he pushes him, and he’s frustrated that he lacks the strength and words to complete the task. He feels helpless and helpless is a scary feeling to experience.
The parent should respond with empathy, “Oh, this must be so frustrating for you. I’ll be your words and tell the dog to move. It feels good to accomplish something ou’ve been working hard at.” (did you hear the self-esteem builder at the end?)
Toddler’s imaginations are very real. What they see in the mind can actually happen to them and it’s very disappointing when it doesn’t actually happen. This little boy wants to be big and strong, like most little boys. He feels inferior and he can’t do anything about it. Have you ever felt small? Insignificant? Weak?
The parent should recognize what’s fueling him here, “You wish you were big and strong like the Hulk. I sometimes wish I were different than myself. I wonder if you could show me how strong YOU are?”
This is terrifying! Why is he out of the TV? How is he here next to me? Ironman doesn’t look like this? Ironman is big, strong, he wears armor, and he’s magical! This kid is genuinely frightened, confused, disappointed.
The parent should not have even pointed out that this was “Ironman” and slash the poor kid’s dreams. They could say, “This man is from TV and movies. Would you like to meet a man that pretends to be a superhero just like you like to pretend?”
5. This little girls is unlikely crying because of Justin Bierber’s music as this picture portrays. She’s probably scared of the crowds, the noise, the unpredictability, and the commotion. It’s also highly likely that it’s passed her bedtime.
This is a hard play to call. Clearly the parents were protecting her ears using the headphones, but often kids just aren’t ready for the environment of a concert. It’s too overwhelming for some kids.
There are a few tings in this photo that could be going on. First off, look at the size of her leg and look at his. It’s possible this hurts! Second, why should he have to share? He probably had a good year to a year and a half where he got the seat all to himself and in his mind, “This is MY seat!”
Again, a choice should have been offered. “Would you like to share the seat with your sister or ride alone in the cart?” Or, “Would you like to share the seat or walk beside me?” Kids, like adults, like to feel they have some control over the environment.
7. Toddlers need a break from life, too, from time to time. Don’t you, as an adult, ever feel like you just need a little alone time? This child is showing a very mature ability to identify his need for solidarity and space and he recognizes that he needs some time away to collect himself.
The parent should have commended his decision to find space, “You must be tired today. I’ve noticed you need space. I’ll be in the other room when you feel ready”.
I think toddlers are THE most misunderstood age group. I’m tired of hearing these years described as “terrible twos”, “treacherous threes” or “frantic fours”. If you’ve had 3 years of a tantrum “phase” with your child, I’m sorry to say it is not the child’s fault. Perhaps they’ve had needs that have gone unmet physically, emotionally, and mentally. It’s tough being so aware of yourself and your surroundings, but having no control over them and not being able to communicate your needs and wants.
How do you handle your toddler’s upsets?