Why Ignoring A Tantrum Might Not Always Work (& What To Do Instead)

Why Ignoring A Tantrum Might Not Always Work (& What To Do Instead)

Children experience emotions just like adults do. Unfortunately, most kids lack the emotional intelligence to effectively communicate what they’re feeling in any given moment during the early stages of child development. Sometimes this leads kids to throw temper tantrums in hopes of getting what they want or expressing the big feelings that are happening inside.

When our kids throw these tantrums, we sometimes feel compelled to ignore them. However, ignoring tantrums doesn’t always work — and you should try a different approach.

Why Ignoring A Tantrum Doesn’t Always Work

Most mothers have heard the advice to ignore their preschooler’s tantrums time and time again. However, there are lots of cases where ignoring a tantrum doesn’t always work (and sometimes even makes the situation worse). In fact, positive parenting expert Sarah Moore of Motherly says there are three reasons why ignoring a tantrum doesn’t always work well.

For starters, ignoring a tantrum doesn’t help you learn what the underlying issue is, which means the issue doesn’t get resolved. While you may not like the fact that your child is screaming to tell you that they’re hungry, ignoring the tantrum won’t help you or your child fix the issue itself — it will just make the situation escalate further. This may push your child to use extreme measures each time they encounter this same problem, which won’t help the tantrums stop.

Furthermore, ignoring emotional dysregulation in young children doesn’t help them learn healthier ways to express their feelings and get their needs met. Kids need parents to model proper communication and emotional self-control, which means they need us to step in and teach them ways to cope with negative emotions and problems as they come up. When we ignore tantrums, we miss an opportunity to teach them how to better handle their big feelings in the future.

Finally, ignoring our child’s tantrums shows them that our love is conditional, which isn’t what we want at all. In fact, the experts at Parenting For Social Change say that conditional love like this can quickly tear down a child’s self-worth and make them believe that their entire worth is solely reliant on the approval of others. This can lead to a whole list of mental health complications down the line and can set a child up for an exceptionally rough adult life.

What To Do Instead Of Ignoring A Tantrum

When parents hear advice to not ignore their child’s tantrums, they often assume that people are suggesting to instead give in to their child’s demands entirely, regardless of the way they’re handling the situation. However, Tracy Cassels, Ph.D. of Evolutionary Parenting actually suggests a middle ground between ignoring the tantrum entirely and giving into the child’s demands.

According to an article by Cassels, you can actually provide your child with the emotional support they need to work through the tantrum without actually removing any rules or boundaries you’ve put into place. Cassels says that children do understand the difference between emotional support and “giving in,” and they will actually appreciate your offers to comfort them and discuss the situation — even if you maintain a firm “no” when they ask again.

How to react when your kid’s having a tantrum & the one thing you can do to stop it

How to react when your kid’s having a tantrum & the one thing you can do to stop it

FROM the terrible twos to the troublesome threes and ferocious fours, tantrums evolve over time but they’re all equally unpleasant.

Whether you’re dealing with a child who screams and cries, lashes out physically or gets nasty with words, there are foolproof strategies to put tantrums to bed.  Parenting expert Sophie Giles shares the best way to deal with inevitable tantrums as your child grows up. Fabulous spoke to Sophie Giles, parenting and behavioural consultant and founder of the Gentle Start Family Consultancy, who says the worst thing you can do is fear them.

She says: “Children have tantrums, it’s a natural part of child development.

“They don’t have a way to express everything and they’re trying to work out how to manipulate the world and get what they want.

“So you have to help them to see that having a meltdown isn’t the way to do that.”

To know how best to react, it can be helpful to identify the type of tantrum your child is having.

There are three basic types:

Emotional outburst

Sophie says: “This is when a child has no other way of dealing with their emotions, it all gets a bit too intense and they just have a meltdown.”

Behavioural tantrum

“This is a manipulative kind of tantrum,” explains Sophie.

“The kind of tantrum where they’re threatening, ‘I will scream and yell until you give me what I want’.” Sensory overload Similar in cause to an emotional outburst, but with a slightly different solution, is the sensory overload.Sophie says: “This is when things are too loud, or too bright or there are too many people.”  So what should you do next? With a sensory overload, Sophie says the child may need attention and calming and for you to give them a deep pressure hug (provided they’re not flailing around and trying to hurt you). With an emotional outburst, it’s important to give them space to work through it.“ They need to get it out of their system,” says Sophie.   “If there’s a really shrill screaming going on, that’s telling you, ‘Get out of my face now, I’ve had enough of you’, in which case leave them to it – but you have to make sure they’re safe, obviously.

She also advises limiting your words as much as possible.  “A child under the age of five can’t really process language and heightened emotion at the same time,” Sophie explains.  “Try to use five words or less – that’s pretty much all they can compute.  ”The language you use is also very important with behavioural tantrums and you should think hard about what you’re going to say before you speak.  Sophie says: “The more words you use, the more angry they may get, or […]