Children can burst into tantrums when we least expect it, especially when they are young and their ability to verbalize what they are feeling is still limited. We all know that tantrums are a normal part of their development, but the truth is that sometimes it can be very difficult to manage them.
If you don’t know what to do or you feel that sometimes the situation is too much for you, we tell you what NOT to do when your child is having a tantrum.
11 Things Not To Do If Your Child is Having a Tantrum
Tantrums are a way for children to express what is happening to them, as not all of them have the ability to do so verbally. Putting words to feelings such as frustration, anger, envy, nostalgia, anxiety, etc. is not easy, and so they channel their emotions through crying or tantrums.
If at that moment we ignore their crying or turn our back on them, our child will receive the message that we don’t care about their feelings or what is happening to them. In other words, they will feel displaced, rejected, misunderstood, and humiliated.
Remove the child from the group and leave him or her alone.
There are still those who consider ‘thinking corner’ or ‘time out’, two behavioral modification strategies that consist of excluding the child from the activity they are doing and putting them in a corner so that they can reflect on what they have done and modify their behavior.
If a child in the midst of a tantrum is pushed aside, locked in a room, or left alone, we are causing serious emotional harm by sending the message that we don’t care what happens to them.
Moreover, it should be remembered that a child who is having a tantrum is acting from a purely emotional point of view, so it is totally incongruous to expect him to “think or reflect” on his actions.
Punishments are not educational methods; they are harmful to the child’s emotional development and to the building of a healthy and strong self-esteem, and they deeply affect our relationship with our children.
Moreover, if we stop tantrums by punishing them, we will be causing profound psychological damage to the child, both in the short, medium, and long term, as well as making them believe that their feelings do not matter to us in the slightest.
Punishments affect children psychologically, and we should banish them when educating.
Children should not be hit. Never. Never. Not a spanking, not a slap, not a shake… Corporal punishment harms children physically and emotionally, does not correct or improve their behavior, and has terrible lifelong consequences.
Often, shouting is not seen as a form of violence towards the child, and we use it too often when educating. But shouting, like physical and psychological punishment, is not an educational method and seriously harms the child. Moreover, it is important to know how the brain reacts to shouting (it blocks, stops assimilating information, and raises the levels of a hormone called cortisol, which is responsible for causing stress, fear, and insecurity), so under no circumstances can the child learn under these conditions.
Preach to him.
When a child is faced with a situation that causes frustration or stress and eventually leads to a tantrum, the child’s brain locks up as the amygdala detects a threat.
As a result, the child begins to experience physical sensations such as a rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, and tense muscles (some children even self-harm as a result of this anxiety).
So no matter how much you want to reason with your child at that moment and lecture him or her about what is right and what is wrong, he or she will not listen to you. It is better to wait for them to calm down by providing emotional support in moments of tension, and then talk empathetically and respectfully about what happened, focusing on finding a positive solution.
Labeling or ridiculing you
“How ugly you are when you cry”, “crying is for babies”, “you’re a crybaby”, “crying is for cowards”, “crying is for girls”, “I don’t like children who cry,”… There are countless phrases that ridicule crying or the child who cries.
Although we are often unaware of the great emotional charge implicit in our words and our labels towards children, they cause serious damage to their self-esteem, frustration, anxiety, misunderstanding, and a host of other negative feelings that end up affecting them even in the long term.
Telling them “not to cry”.
Adults make the mistake of wanting to put a child’s tantrum down as soon as possible, either because it hurts us to see our child upset, because we are worried about what people will say, or because their worries seem banal to us. That is why “don’t cry” is often the first thing we parents say when our children burst into a tantrum.
However, with this message, we are invalidating their feelings and unconsciously asking them not to feel what they are feeling.
Say “it’s OK” or “it’s silly”.
In an adult’s eyes, what has caused our child to burst into a tantrum may be something completely trivial. But in their child’s world and with their purely emotional brain, things take on another dimension and are important to them.
Therefore, if we are trying to calm and contain our child during a tantrum, we should not invalidate or minimize his or her feelings with phrases such as “it’s no big deal”, “it’s OK”, “that’s silly,” etc.
Blackmailing your child to stop crying
Emotional blackmail is a very powerful form of manipulation whereby close and caring people threaten the child, directly or indirectly, to do or not do something that bothers others.
Adults use blackmail with children very often, and sometimes we are not even aware of the serious emotional damage it can cause.
There are many ways of blackmailing a child to stop crying, from threatening that the police will come for him or her or that he or she will not go to the playground afterwards to cajoling him or her with promises or rewards if he or she stops crying. In all cases, blackmail subjugates the child, provokes fear, and forces them to quickly change their behavior on the basis of an external threat.
Telling them that “you don’t love them”.
Threatening a child that someone important to them will stop loving them if they continue to cry is the most cruel, terrible, and inhumane form of emotional blackmail that exists, as well as being completely untrue (parents will never stop loving their children, no matter what they do).
Children need to know that their parents love them unconditionally and that they will stand by them no matter what they do.
Although not all children are the same, in general, the tantrum phase tends to take place between the ages of two and four, coinciding with the moment when they begin to discover themselves as independent individuals capable of expressing their own will.
Therefore, if we understand tantrums as just another part of a child’s psychological development, it will be easier not to become disoriented or lose our temper and to know how to attend to our child with the calm and emotional support they need.