Tantrums Are Healthy
Tantrums are not only normal… TANTRUMS ARE HEALTHY.
What? Your child’s screaming and kicking about not being able to have a fudge pop for breakfast is HEALTHY? Yes. You betcha.
Tantrums are almost all about the same thing: “I want something and someone is getting in my way. I want YES and someone is saying NO to me. I want want want and I am getting denied denied denied.”
Wanting something and having our desire thwarted is one of the most difficult human experiences – for kids, but also for adults.
Tantrums are a child’s way of saying, “I still know what I want, even when you say no to me. My whole body is showing you that I know this desire and that I am frustrated in not having it realized.”
Do we want to limit dangerous behaviors mid-tantrum? Absolutely. Do we want to stay calm ourselves? For sure. Is our goal to stop a tantrum or stop them from happening, entirely? NO, it’s not.
Here’s why: WE WANT OUR KIDS TO WANT FOR THEMSELVES.
We want our kids to recognize and assert their desires. We want our kids to be able to hold onto the idea of “I still know what I want even when people around me tell me no” – right?
We cannot encourage subservience and compliance in our kids when they’re young and expect confidence and assertiveness when they’re older.
Want your child to be able to ask for a raise? Be able to say “I need you to be talk to me more respectfully” to a partner? Then start seeing tantrums as an essential part of childhood.
We are building pathways in their early years – emotion regulation circuits, procedural learning.
In my opinion, it’s critical to communicate the following around tantrums, which we can express through boundaries around dangerous behavior AND empathy and validation for underlying feelings: “I will not let you hit and I may even take me with you to another room so your tantrum doesn’t take over the whole house… and yet, also, I WANT YOU TO HOLD ONTO YOUR DESIRE FOR YOURSELF. Knowing what you want for yourself – this is good and healthy.”