You’re half way to your goal! How are things going on your journey up to this point?
You’ve learned a little technique – fewer words, more action.
You’ve learned to keep reasonable expectations.
You’ve learned to make sure to meet your own needs so you can better meet the needs of your demanding young children.
You acknowledge that part of your mothering journey is to personally grow and become more self-disciplined, patient, and flexible.
What more can you do?
One of the hot buttons a lot of moms share is feeling overwhelmed and frustrated when their child tantrums. Tantrums that involve crying, yelling, and some aggression – like falling on the floor or throwing a toy, are normal for children between the ages of 15 months and 6 years old.
There’s a lot of misconception around crying and tantrums. Many parents aren’t sure if they should comfort, ignore, punish, listen or “give in” to their child’s raging. It can be so stressful for a parent to deal with crying and whining that they resort to yelling and threatening their child to make them stop. You may have determined that your child is manipulative or immature or maybe you’ve even called him “spoiled” because of his temper tantrums.
Effectively respond to tantrums.
There are parents who believe babies are manipulative of their caregivers because of their “demanding” need to be held. This is supposedly how babies are “spoiled.” Then there are parents who believe every whimper, every dissatisfied cry should be responded to immediately and soothed. So your choice is to neglect your child’s emotions or never let your child experience their emotions? Hmmm…
So, what do you do? Let’s face it, you’re mamas who believe in nurturing your babies and your children when they cry. You believe you should strive to meet your child’s needs with a nurturing response. I agree. But I also know you want your child to feel free to fully express himself when he needs to.
Aletha Solter is author of All Children Flourishing and Tears and Tantrums. She has done amazing work and research on how to respond effectively to children when they cry and tantrum. She states, “…not all crying is an indication of an immediate need or want. Much of it is a natural stress-release mechanism that allows children to heal from the effects of frightening or frustrating experiences that have occurred previously. Children use tears and tantrums to resolve trauma and release tensions. It is therefore not the caretaker’s job to stop the crying or raging, because these behaviors are, in themselves, basic needs from birth on.”
She is in no way suggesting that you should ignore your child’s crying but she doesn’t want you shush their tears away either. So read on…
Solter suggests that because parents are so uncomfortable with their children’s crying, they literally repress their children from feeling safe to fully express their emotions when they need to by using common comforting techniques that attempt to thwart their child’s sad outbursts.
As a result of thwarting off the crying, children are not able to release the stress, frustration, and trauma through tears and tantrums enough. Interestingly, “indications of a need to cry include disagreeable behaviors, such as hitting, or biting, excessive clinging and whining, and obnoxious or repeated “testing” behavior (purposely doing something that is forbidden). Pretty intriguing, eh?
Solter provides us with a technique called “crying in arms.” She believes that physical closeness is very important and that children need plenty of it. Some of you may think that your child doesn’t need physical closeness because they pull or squirm away. Strive to re-establish physical closeness through gentle touches with each of your children when they are upset or when they’re not upset – cuddling and snuggling are part of emotional health.
Since becoming aware of “crying-in-arms” I have discovered that there are many times that one of my children needs to have the freedom to express themselves in a safe way. When I hear a lot of whining or sibling rivalry or defiance I can redirect a destructive tantrum into a healthy, in-arms crying emotional release.
For example, I might pick up my child and take him into his room with me, close the door, and sit in the rocker and listen to his feelings or just hold him while he cries. After his release through crying, while being in the safety of my calming presence, he’s like a renewed child! Usually when I consistently allow my children the space they need to vent, there’s a lot less crying and tantruming in general. Literally, we might have full days without any! When I forget to allow the full release, and instead go back to stopping the crying through distraction or even requesting my child go away from me until he’s calm, I see more negative behaviors start to come up throughout the day – whining or defiance, for example.
When you begin to understand your child’s tears and emotions and provide him with the space to express those emotions, you may find a more calm, cooperative child.
There’s a lot more to learn about tears and tantrums and the Mother’s Circle program will be including more information for those interested in digesting more!