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  • Sheela M.

Tantrums - How We Triumphed Them

You will hear from most parents, that having children absolutely changed their lives! They will speak about the love, the cuddles, and your heart growing so much bigger than you knew it could! It truly is one of the most rewarding feelings. But what about the journey of parenthood? As rewarding as it is, it will also be the most difficult transitions you make in your life as a person. Whoever you were before you had kids, will change drastically as soon as this new person comes into your arms. Your level of patience is tested to the maximum as you transition through every stage of your child's life. From the newborn stage, to toddler life, to a preschooler, you will learn so much about your new baby, their cues, what bothers them, makes them cry, and sometimes you will be just guessing what they could possibly want!

Newborn baby sleeping

Over the years my own parenting style changed quite a bit. I tapped into what I had learned as a psychology major, and I am so glad that I did! The biggest tip I can share, is that communication is KEY, even from an extremely young age. Children will mimic what they see in their parents, even as babies. If you raise your voice when you are frustrated, they will do the same. If you spank your kids because you are upset with them, they will learn that physical violence will get them their way. You cannot have one set of rules for yourself, and another set for your kids. "Because I said so" just doesn't work, and more than likely results in very frustrated or confused children in the long run. If you want your children to grow up as confident individuals who know how to maintain successful friendships and relationships, then demonstrate the right level of communication to them.

Family enjoying screen time together


How you speak to your partner will have a huge impact on what your children learn to mimic in their future relationships. Not just when things are going well, but when you are unhappy or frustrated, does your tone of voice come across as respectful, or scary?

The same can be said for the opposite. What are you "putting up with" in the presence of your children? Are you teaching them to be submissive and be okay with poor behaviour? Or are you teaching them to be respected by their future partners as well? It all comes down to communication, and how you choose to do that as an adult.

Child being yelled at by her parents


We are all guilty of this. We are human, we get overwhelmed, and triggered and overstimulated. And for those of us who never learned to regulate feelings in a positive way, it may often result in lots of yelling. But what does this teach our children in the long run? It sets the example, that if you are not at your best or not getting your way, it permits you to raise your voice and start yelling at people around you. Ever wonder why your kids start screaming and crying when they don't get their way? They are tiny humans who have not learned how to navigate their emotions yet and calm themselves down. A skill that many adults have not even mastered in their lives, so how are we expecting young kids to be able to do it? And for the younger ones, they may not even be speaking clear sentences yet, so their language IS crying! It is how they communicate something is not right. The good thing is, we as adults, can teach them how to learn this skill, provided we are willing to learn it first.

young girl in trouble with her mom

PUNISHMENT When my kids were younger, I was doing probably what most parents do. Yelling, giving timeouts, taking away toys as "punishment". I was taught by example that this is how you "discipline" your kids into being "good kids". It was also equated with being a "good parent". How silly I feel now thinking back to the time I thought punishing a young child, would somehow "train them" into becoming the most well-behaved child for the future. The thing is, I don't believe there are "bad" kids. However there are definitely kids who may take a bit longer to learn how to manage their emotions. Diving deeper into WHY some children take longer, is a post for another day.

GENTLE PARENTING I have for the past many years, adopted a more gentle parenting style. We do not "punish" our children as a means of discipline. Punishment is for criminals, and my children are definitely not criminals. The reason for this is very simple. I want my children to be able to trust me, and know they can rely on me for anything in life, no matter what happens, now and in the future.

If children are worried they will be "punished" if they "mess up", they will most likely not share what's going on in their lives, not reach out for help when needed, and probably start lying about things out of fear of our reaction, even the super small things.

mother playing blocks with her young child


I've said it before, and I'll say it again, communication is key! Not just communicating from your end, but encouraging your children to express what they are feeling as well. My 5 year old, Alainah, often cries. For various reasons of course. She cries when she's sad, when she thinks she's made a mistake, or hurt someone's feelings. She cries if a toy breaks. She cries when she is frustrated. She also cries when she's tired, or if we put the wrong toothpaste on her toothbrush. She cries when an outfit doesn't feel comfortable, or when we cut her sandwich into the wrong shape. She'll especially cry if her balloon pops. Writing it all out makes it kind of amusing now. So how have I been able to dismantle a full on tantrum in under 30 seconds, each and every time? Regardless of what the reason is? Very simple, I talk to her, and ask her to talk to me.

child feeding her dad a sandwich


This is usually the order in which things go, when I am dismantling a full on tantrum. Children do not cry for no reason, it's usually about something that may seem so tiny to us, but is a huge deal in their little worlds. So I encourage not to undermine what they are feeling, and show them that we understand and acknowledge their feelings. Some tantrums are easier dealt than others, but for the most part, here is what always works for me. 1) I start with asking her to come to me in a very calm voice. This usually leads to a very sluggish walk over with lots of tears, but definitely hope, that Mama's about to fix it. 2) I request she speak to me a calm manner. "Mama can't understand you when you are crying so loud, can you speak to me nicely please?" This has never resulted in a louder voice. But also, I say this in an extremely calm manner myself with a soft stroke on the cheek, hair or arm. Remember, children will mimic what they are seeing. 3) I ask her to share with me whats bothering her. "Are you feeling sad right now?" or "What's making you feel sad?" Let them voice their feelings themselves. This allows them to also be in tune with their own feelings, which will definitely be a good skill to have for the future. Many adults do not know how to share what they feel. Perhaps they were never given the chance, or just never learned how.

4) I acknowledge how she is feeling, and let her know its okay to cry "I am sorry you feel that way" or "I am sorry you are sad about XYZ" or "I understand you are feeling sad about that" or "Mama cries when she is sad too" Crying is a healthy emotion to let out what you are feeling. If we tell our children to stop crying, we are only reducing the noise level, and not allowing them to express what they have been feeling, this doesn't actually resolve the issue for them. Many adults who don't cry, end up bottling up their feelings, and eventually it all comes out in a very ugly manner.

5) Offering a solution if needed. If this was as simple as she didn't like her dress, or her sandwich was cut wrong, as an adult, is it really so bad if we allow the child to feel comfortable by having things go their way? Now of course there is a fine line between spoiling our kids and allowing them to feel comfortable. If I am not going to lose sleep over it, I will probably let them have their way. However, this will come with a talk about being able to nicely ask Mama when something is bothering her, because Mama is here for her. If the topic is more about wanting the 5th candy today, or something I am not actually okay with, I will probably explain the harms of having too much sugar, or cavities etc. and divert her attention elsewhere, instead of letting her have her way. We as parents must pick and choose our battles. Children have an opinion as well. And although we may not always agree with it, as long as it's not harming them, it may not be so bad to let them "win" this one.

6) Physical connection

This is so important. Our physical touch says a lot to our children. It is a language of its own. Hugs and kisses are always welcome, no matter how old your children get, you can show them you love them by giving them a hug. This also teaches them how to display love in healthy relationships in the future. We enjoy cuddles, and even today, my 11 year old loves snuggling up with me.

mom laughing with her young child while they eat

If you have never tried this gentle parenting approach before, it may not settle in right away. You will need to be patient, and repetitive with your kids, without losing your cool. Stick to it, and you will see the change it enforces in you as a parent, but also your child in how they handle their emotions. Give it a try and let me know how it does for you! Have another method that works great for you? Do share it in the comments.

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