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Here are some simple parenting tips on how to handle temper tantrums and sail through most of it with a smile.
Every phase of my son’s growing up has its own joys and challenges and I am sure it’s the same case with every other kid. There was a phase when he used to cry before I could refill his glass with some more milk, and right now we are in a phase where getting him to drink milk is a weary task.
I look at his baby videos when he used to cry as soon as the milk got over in his glass and I wonder, ‘Oh, how small he was! See how he was holding the tiny glass and trying to drink and how cute he looks when he was crying!’ Back then, however, I used to be on my toes with anxiety and be ready with another glass of milk to fill it up for him as soon as it got over.
Same situation – but different feelings in the past and the present. This reminds me of one of the interesting dialogues from the famous movie, Jab We Met. The heroine says this to the hero during one of their difficult times together, “We are so worried and tense at the moment but see, in the future, we are going to recollect all these crazy times and laugh so much..” How true is that!
So why is it so difficult for us to at least accept the current situation, if not be too happy or careless about it? Perhaps this is because of the natural human tendency to not bear any form of difficulty at the moment. However, with kids, things will start looking a lot easier if we let them be kids and not expect them to act like adults.
Now most of us would be surprised at this; why would anyone expect a kid to behave like an adult? But try to look around you – the appreciation we give kids is when they behave like an adult and not for being a kid. In fact they might be shouted at for being too childish sometimes, isn’t it? All of a sudden, if a kid does something which is usually done by the grownups, he/she would be appreciated instantly.
So the question is – what is the rush for? They have their whole life ahead to live as adults but only a few years to be kids, for so long as they would be kids. An occasional jumping in the puddles, jumping on the bed, one last time on the park’s slide (my kiddo’s one last time is usually more or less my 10th time of telling him that we are going home now!), playing with chapathi dough, getting dirty with sand on feet, hands, hair and what not, should all be fine for now at least.
Kids should be given their freedom to be kids within a bigger boundary that you set as an adult. It means that you let them be however they want to be within the limit that you set, yet treat them with respect as you treat a fellow adult – not because they are adults but that is how they are going to learn how to treat others. Try and listen to them when they are talking to you, let them know that you are listening and that their opinion counts.
Yes, there are times when a parent or a teacher or a care giver who is constantly with kids might get consumed with numerous trying situations and lose patience occasionally, but it is better not to be anxious for all the little things.
We have a list of silly things where my son insists and I happily give up on those where there is no harm – we are allowed only to take steps and not the lift, I have to feed him when he is done with half of his meal, he has to step out of the house first with his dad following him while going to school, he doesn’t like us to sing along while the songs are playing, he has to hold the glass before I fill it with warm drinking water to name a few.
I know they sound silly enough but the point is that there are things where you cannot or should not let them be the decision makers like getting ready to school on time, having a proper meal, being safe, staying hygienic, not hurting others etc.
I know they sound silly enough but the point is that there are things where you cannot or should not let them be the decision makers like getting ready to school on time, having a proper meal, being safe, staying hygienic, not hurting others etc. So let them have their say in simple and not so important things, so that they get the feeling that their opinion counts and have a sense of freedom. This actually makes the job easier when you have to choose something for them as they will also let you do that and then the frequency of temper tantrums would gradually reduce.
For those of you who can do it more consciously, almost every time, I have a good advice from my son’s school teacher – “Try to alternate the things which your child likes and you like, always starting with the kid’s turn first.”
This will at least make things easier for you to handle, if not ensure zero fights over everything. Try to treat them like adults wherever you need to reinforce good values and must follow rules and show them by being a follower yourself. Kids will learn to respect others and have self-respect if you treat them like one who deserves the same.
Angry child image via Shutterstock