A flailing toddler howling inconsolably, kicking frantically and pounding the floor, flustered parents and baffled onlookers—a pretty common yet not so pleasant sight for many of us.
And what do we, say as onlookers, do when we witness these ‘infamous tantrums’? While many of us pretend to ignore the hoo-hah (for the sake of politeness), some of us shower the perplexed parents with nasty looks for not being in control. And a few…just few of us are those who truly understand and empathize—People who know that these meltdowns are a part of childhood.
Photo Source: Runar Pedersen Holkestad
“With expectations that children should act like adults comes great disappointment when they act like children”, says Rebecca Eanes, founder of Positive-Parents.org. And I can’t agree more.
I’m no parenting expert, rather far from it. But I know one thing for sure—Babies are not born with evil intentions to downtrod us. Period.
Being a parent of a preschooler I’ve closely known these meltdowns both as an onlooker as well as the one dealing with them. And while handling them I’ve put up with nasty comments, unsolicited advice and have felt the burden to be in control, be it in parties, family get-togethers, or supermarkets.
Control him? Like seriously? He didn’t come with a remote control. And nor do I intend to control him. I certainly do intend to discipline him, teach him, guide him, but never control him. He’s a human being not a remote controlled toy for God’s sake.
I recently heard someone describing a preschooler acting out in public, showing resentment or talking back as rotten and spoilt. It left me flabbergasted for sure. Of course everyone is entitled to have an opinion. But every child is entitled to be a child too. Judging a child based on some twisted, adult made scale of acceptable human behaviour is atrocious. And calling a child rotten is demeaning to the core.
It’s not easy being a child. They’re little humans struggling with big emotions who seek our help in understanding, defining and dealing with every single emotion. There’s a lot happening in their rapidly growing brains. Their growing sense of independence perturbs them when they fail to see the boundaries. They constantly test and push our limits to know theirs. Thus the responsibility of setting healthy and firm boundaries while being kind and empathetic is utterly on us as parents. And yes they’re entitled, entitled to feel the entire spectrum of emotions— grumpy, excited, disappointed, happy, upset and so on, just like the rest of us.
Every tantrum or meltdown is an sos for help. There’s always an underlying cause. We need to validate the feelings first and address/correct the behaviour next. They need us to tell them that it’s okay to feel how they feel. However there are positive ways to deal with difficult emotions without hurting or offending anyone.
It’s a pity that human beings seem to have evolved, but their instinct to curb emotions hasn’t. Emotions still remain a taboo. Banishing people for what they feel without understanding what makes them feel so is tragic indeed. Spanking never ever helps (Even research supports that!), and same goes with reprimanding and power struggles. All it does is teach our kids wrong ways to settle a conflict.
Consider this for example. After having a tiff with my husband the other day, I withdrew myself from the situation and sat in silence till both of us were good enough to discuss and reflect on what went wrong. Now what if to teach him a lesson, I take away his car keys or make him stand in one corner of the house with all his privileges taken down. Or how about insisting that he apologizes verbally when he doesn’t even feel like. Sounds insane, doesn’t it?
Though smaller in size, kids are full humans too and deserve to be treated with respect. They’re like mirrors who reflect what we’re. They help us see things we haven’t resolved within ourselves. These little beings expand our hearts, mind and soul making us better humans.
Ever since I came across this concept of positive parenting, things have changed for the better (And when I say positive parenting, it doesn’t imply submissive). Less yelling, more connecting, and time outs giving way for time ins are certainly making a difference in my house. With a strong willed preschooler at hand, it gets challenging for sure, but at the end worth it.
And I’m certainly going to write some more on my tryst with positive parenting.