Coping with toddler tantrums can be stressful for all involved. I read a meme lately that got me thinking. It read ” Children are our mirrors. They recreate what they see”
A feeling of that ‘parent guilt’ crept in. I thought about the last time I became upset with with my kid’s behaviour and how I reacted. Was I too harsh? Did I ‘parent’ the situation properly? Did the behaviour get corrected or was the lesson lost somewhere behind how I reacted? Would I expect him to speak to anyone the way I spoke to him….
All of these questions came pouring through.
I am 100% Anti slapping. It serves absolutely no purpose whatsoever other than mirror a serious loss of control of YOURSELF! No amount of comments of “well it did me no harm” will ever change my mind. If you feel it is necessary to physically hurt a person 1 tenth your size in order to cope…..really??? Just think about the message you send. Your not doing what I want so I hit you to understand……eh no thanks. Imagine if we all went around wacking people that didn’t do things the way we felt it should be done and we all condoned it…..thats just a very angry, messed up place!
Social Media Shame
There is a really concerning trend of toddler shaming on social media over recent years. The idea of posting your child in his/her vulnerable moment of not understanding what is a difficult situation to them, doesn’t sit well with me. I can understand how ridiculous the situation can feel to the parent, when it is for what seems to you a ‘bizarre’ reason to throw a tantrum but we must respect that this is a vulnerable time for our child. Keep it in the home. Anyone that knows me will know I love a good laugh. I really don’t take much in life too seriously. So it is not that I dont see the light in it. Posting your child in a moment of distress on social media for all to have a giggle at simply is not respectful in my opinion. That’s just my opinion.
I don’t think there is a 100% right way to deal with the tantrums of a young child(slapping is definitely not the answer!) But what is important to recognise is the only two facts in that moment.
First fact that you are an adult and he/she a young child.
Second fact is that your child doesn’t know how to cope with the given situation.
Being anti slapping is one thing but what about yelling? Shouting or yelling can be just as damaging at sending the wrong message. It is easy to lose it and yell when you have repeated yourself 10 times, Stop that, Don’t touch, Let go, Get down, Don’t push/grab/bite….. if you hear yourself using any of these terms over and over chances are you’ve yelled them a time or two before.
What is the lesson we are trying to teach when we use these quick phrases? Don’t touch that because….. Let go because….. Get down because….. Don’t hit your brother because it hurts and makes him sad.
Yes, we will have to repeat the phrases but by adding the reason why each time, will help guide our little people to understand the reasons why we don’t want them to do the action in the first place.It is not simple or easy and it will take you on a journey of mastering patience but most importantly a journey of discovering what values you want your little people to mirror. Your actions, they mirror.
Gentle parenting or Conscious parenting isn’t something anyone is perfect at. Let’s face it, when a tantrum hits you could be already in the middle of dealing with your own issues, filling a shopping trolley or in the perfect tantrum control mode with endless options to hand to help diffuse the situation and it will still be difficult. There will never be an ideal time.
Wherever you are, the most important thing to understand is that this little person is young. This person has so many emotions that they don’t yet understand and you are the piece of the puzzle that can help them combine the various parts, to help guide them in understanding.
At such a young age, your child does not see that to act out or have the mother of all tantrums is difficult for you………
They only know it is difficult for them.
They only know they have a problem and they don’t know how to solve it.
Let’s try figure this out together
So if we apply the rule that they mirror our actions, without saying a word, what would that look like when those difficult situations arise?
- Acknowledge this is a young child.
- Respect that they don’t fully understand the situation.
- Give space. If they want you to step away, step away.
- Sit at child level a reachable distance away. Chances are they will want your comfort before the storm has ended. If they don’t, remain spaciously present. Your company is comfort.
- Reassure. I am here for you. I love you. I can help you.
- When we are all calm, communicate the feelings expressed and reasons, what, where, when, why.
- Be kind to them, be kind to yourself. Hug it out together.
Kindness is more than words. Mirror Kindness!
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