Ask any mom about the most challenging part of parenthood, and chances are she’ll talk about the ear-grating, nerve-pinging hell that is a tantrum. But it turns out that our kids aren’t throwing themselves around just to upset us (or embarrass us in public). There’s a reason why they do what they do.
It’s a release
Obviously, your child isn’t exactly fretting about missed deadlines and surly clients, but make no mistake, he gets the blues, too. Because tears contain the stress hormone, cortisol, a good cry helps release these negative emotions.
He’s responding to a boundary you’ve set
Most tantrums come about because you’ve laid down the law. No one likes to hear the word “no”, but it’s critical to have those boundaries in place.
Tantrums facilitate learning
Yes, really. You know how sometimes you feel blocked at work? Kids feel the same when they’re attempting a new or complex task, and it can be very frustrating. Tantrums clear that frustration so that they’re able to hone the skill.
Tantrums can actually help you bond
Suspend your disbelief. Although your initial reaction to a tantrum may be intensely negative, it may be a relationship-builder – especially from your child’s perspective. For a start, your child’s ease at displaying emotions – especially difficult ones – means that she views you as her safe haven. Also, the tantrum might just be a sign that she needs a little love and affirmation. If you provide this, showing that you accept her (and her strong emotions, without trying to fix them) you’ll be providing a platform for healthy self-esteem, and help her feel closer to you.
More tantrums, better sleep?
Quite possibly. Remember that a tantrum is really only a way to get rid of giant emotions that your child may find hard to deal with. You have them, too, but you’re able to articulate what’s troubling you. Once you’ve had your say, you feel much better – and they do, too. If they don’t express these feelings, they may experience restless nights as they try to process the emotions when their brains are at rest.
Better overall behaviour
Have you ever had an issue with someone but, instead of addressing the problem outright, you behave towards them in a generally stroppy manner? Same thing with kids. If they don’t get those negative feelings out of their system with a good cry, they’ll express their behaviour in terms we’d think of as passive aggressive – like being cheeky or resisting discipline.
More tantrums at home, fewer in public
That’s the best argument we’ve heard in favour of an at-home meltdown.