Let’s begin with the bottom line here: Tantrums are miserable and exhausting. They are not the most fun part of parenting, and you do not have to pretend to love them to love your child dearly.
With all of that said tantrums are also a very healthy and natural part of child development and are not a sign that your child will someday be a murderous, screaming criminal. Though your child may seem possessed on their worst days, they are learning valuable lessons and developing coping skills that will serve them throughout life.
Kids who do not throw fits are the ones acting in a way that is not “normal” regarding child development. If you are lucky enough to have gotten one of those non-screamers, count yourself lucky, BUT most kids throw tantrums when they are small.
Think about your roughest days at work or even as a parent. Just as adults need a release, kids need to let their feelings out sometimes. If they do not, there are severe mental and physical health issues that can develop. Allowing your kid the opportunity to scream his head off now and then because he or she just doesn’t know what else to do is not bad parenting. No kid ever died from yelling too much, and they may be able to communicate better once they calm down.
Parents do not always see a tantrum as a bonding opportunity. That’s understandable. A kicking, screaming, possibly writhing, two-year-old kiddo is not exactly a warm and fuzzy little thing. You may not feel very close to your child at the time of the fit at all.
But, afterward, if you two have found a way to get through it with minimal chaos, then, you will be closer for it. Often, kids save their worst behavior for the people that they feel the most comfortable with so your kid is giving you a bit of a backward compliment. If you show your child that it is OK to feel strong emotions around you, he or she will develop trust in you and be more willing to talk to you about things throughout the rest of their life.
3Stress-Relief and Better Sleep
When you bottle up your feelings and stressful emotions, how do you feel? Probably not great. Your kids are no different. Just as a stressful day, with no release, can lead to a sleepless night for a grown-up, kids who are not relieving stress appropriately may not rest well. Of course, the toddler years are not a time when a kid can afford to skimp on hours spent snoozing. Their brain and body development rely a great deal on restful sleep.
While tantrums are not enjoyable, you should pat yourself on the back. If your kid is throwing an epic fit, you probably told them something that they did not want to hear. If they are little, that trigger word is probably, “no” but that means you are doing something right.
While allowing kids some level of freedom is essential to their development, so is the establishment of consistent boundaries. Children absolutely must become comfortable with hearing the word, “no” since they will hear it often and for the rest of their lives.
On the flip side of the solid parenting coin is the fact that your little one is developing autonomy. He or she wants to do things his or her way and is willing to fight a bit for the right to get what they want. Of course, they cannot have everything that they want, but that is not the point. They are finding their voice. That is something worth celebrating.
As kids develop independence and start to have opinions, they will test their limits. This is where the old cliché does ring true: They want you to set limits. It makes them feel safe. It’s a cliché because it is accurate. Tantrums are a great time to set boundaries for a child and allow them to cope with disappointment.
Toddlers may want some semblance of control but they do not have any idea what to do with it. (You probably cannot recall much about being a toddler but think about being an adolescent, always pushing for a bit more independence, but still perhaps a bit fearful of doing things on your own…)
Kids who have emotional meltdowns, fits, tantrums (whatever you want to call them) and are given tools to calm down learn to regulate their emotions early. Toddlers have lots of big emotions but very little skill in communication and no real power over their environment. That can make their feelings seem very scary.
But, you have an opportunity to show them how to be the master of their own emotions. Teaching them coping tactics for big feelings is a sure way to set them up for an easier passage into adulthood. After all, none of us can avoid big feelings. We must cope.
Your toddler is growing by leaps and bounds each day, and the reality is that your child will be out of this stage and on to a new one in the blink of an eye. So, today – even if it is a rough one where they won’t stop screaming – remember that this too shall pass.