When I changed my perspective on tantrums, the way I handle a tantrum changed. When I changed, my daughter drastically changed. Her change, highly motivated me to be consistent on my approach and behavior.
I see tantrums as one of the most important opportunities to learn. Tantrum happens when a new situation arises and is difficult to accept. This understanding has brought in a lot of difference in me. As soon as she starts to get frustrated, I try to become more calm, get down to her eye level and give her my complete attention. I just listen and don’t pour on my advices and judgements. This has made her more comfortable to use a lot of words to express her feelings than to just cry. There were situations when I have failed, let go of my boundaries, accepted her, even when she was wrong. But always made sure we don’t create a tantrum for the same matter again, by addressing the issue from an unbaised state of mind the next day.
In Thanvi’s case, most of the time, tantrums would be for choice or change of dress and accessories. I helped her a lot by minimizing her stuffs, simplifying the number of categories, arranging clothes in her eye level and by setting up clear and mutually accepted boundaries. Our efforts paid off, situations have become smoother and fewer.
My another perspective of a tantrum is, it’s a pure form of self expression. I see it as a situation or an opportunity to display and build her own character. It’s a burst of emotions saying that she is different from me. An announcement that she is seeing the world from a different angle. If now, I don’t let her be the way she wants to be, when she grows she would still keep accepting and doing things, the way the world wants, without questioning and not having an opinion of her own.
Only after becoming 30 I have unlearned myself to create a lot of tantrums. I am creating a lot of tantrum within myself and with my loved ones to do what I love to do. I do a lot of tantrum to stay focused on unschooling, minimalism, eating raw, zero waste and much more. As an adult I seek a lot of information to align my thoughts into words understandable to others. I swear it’s extremely hard to stay strong in one thought and to express it legibly. When kids could do this effortlessly we should give in great support instead of showing anger, disinterest, shaming, tagging and putting them down in front of others just because we are assuming to be judged.
I would like to bring up an example here. When Thanvi was nearly two years old, we started to road school . She used to get very dirty by the end of the day hence was bathed every night before bed. Slowly winter started to set in and our outings became fewer. But still she kept insisting on a bath every night. To step into Bangalore’s freezing water at night with my sleep and tiredness was a real menance. She would want to do it, even if reached home late night. She would over react, jump, cry as if it’s the most important thing in the world.
Somehow, it was she, who won everyday. She displayed her need for cleanliness very clearly. I slowly trusted her intention. As she grew and I got busier with Tamaraa, Thanvi started to bathe on her own whenever necessity arose.
This happened at Sadhana Forest a few months back. The hut we stayed had no light and fan. The bathroom was a few steps away from the hut, in the woods. The bathroom had no light, no roof, no door and wasn’t a child friendly one ( not complaining here, but giving you a picture. Sadhana Forest is one of the most beautiful and resourceful places we have visited). The same story started, she felt sweaty and hence wanted to bathe and change. Me being tired, worn out on my second day of period, Tamaraa crying for feed, I said I couldn’t help. The very next moment she asked where the head lamp was. She wore a head lamp, picked up her clothes, went admist the dark woods, bathed and settled in bed without uttering a word.
She displayed a clear sign of confidence, maturity and satisfaction in doing what her soul requires. I was in awe of her desicion making skills. This incident reinforced my confidence on addressing each and every tantrum with a lot of listening and love. Seriously, it’s worth it. Tantrums are one of the greatest opportunities to build one’s own character.