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Tantrums, and encouraging responsible behaviour in children

Tantrums, and encouraging responsible behaviour in children

Anger and stress is all around us. We are dissatisfied with our maids, family members, colleagues, friends, bosses and most of the times, ourselves. But then we are also adults. We realize this. We work upon converting our weaknesses into strengths all the time. We learn techniques through our environment to understand ourselves better, to reflect and make plans for self-improvement. So what do you think is the root cause of all this anger and disappointment? I believe it is expectations. From self and from around us. The bar we set for ourselves is so high these days that anything short of that is unacceptable.

Now let us look at a tiny being a few years into their life. What does he see from his waking moment to sleeping around him? Barring a few hours spent in school where he gets to spend time with peers, he lives in a world full of adults. And we just pretty much summed up the kind of days adults are having above. What do you think he sees? Feels? Experiences? Is it not highly likely that he feels the same drag we do? Because where is he going to get his positive energy from? Everything around him has the electricity of stress. So then how does he express his displeasure? What words does he choose…what tones does he choose…do you not think he learns from his environment? He observes us react to something our maids do, and adopts the same choice of words, tones and reaction even! So the next time he needs to vent, he does not have to look too far to decide how to express himself.

When a child reacts in an aggressive way, verbally or physically we call it a tantrum. Wikipedia suggests a definition of a tantrum – “an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child”. Two important questions arise from this definition. Where does a child go to have so much anger or frustration pent up inside him? Secondly who exhibited to him societally acceptable methods of expression? Both are actually simple to answer, but you must find your own answers for your own relationships.

The child never got to express. Lack of communication is the foremost reason. It runs both ways. He never got to talk, or we didn’t listen. Why didn’t he talk? Could be for several reasons. He was not equipped with the right words to do so, resources to do so or there was just no time or the right opportunity for him to do so! This probably is the biggest challenge of our generation. Working parents and time. Listening is another skill that does not come easily to us when we have our own baggage from work that we take home.


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Asawari Joshi Salwan is an Anthroposophy-inspired Parent Coach. She coaches mothers of young children, helping them feel confident about themselves as parents, and strengthening their bond with one another through one-to-one sessions and group workshops. Her objective is to build a safe, healthy and nurturing community for each child. Through her writing, Asawari wants to help parents connect to their feelings so that they ask the right questions of themselves. She also blogs at http://sowthechange.com/

2 thoughts on “Tantrums, and encouraging responsible behaviour in children

  1. Kritika Srinivasan

    Asawari – interesting insights. Co-incidentally, the Cover Story of our next issue (September) is on Emotional Intelligence and will talk about many of the things that you mention – teaching children to label their emotions, express appropriately, being positive role models, etc. Look out for it!

  2. Ignatius Fernandez

    Asawari, I like your article. In simple terms you analyze why tantrums occur and how social programing impacts the child’s behavior. Lucid. Food for thought.
    However, children need to understand that tantrums are not acceptable. If we let them repeat such behavior, a habit is formed which stays with them into adulthood. They become duplicates, in this respect, of their parents who do not control control their emotions. So, while we understand the reason, we need to change our behavior, and with love, convey to them that better behavior would align with the rest of their personality – which is pleasing. In no way should we condone or leave unchecked such behavior, focusing on correcting ours, as we check theirs.
    Please, take this comment well. A little editing would have improved the quality of your article and enhanced its impact. Thank you. God bless.


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