Tantrums, along with many other challenging (but super common!) behaviours like defiance/ attention seeking/ uncooperativeness/ waking multiple times per night/ hitting etc, are really just the tip of the ICEBERG. In this article I want to look at WHY these behaviours come up and what’s really going on below the surface.
Visualise an iceberg for a moment. Imagine the small part popping out of the water is the challenging behaviour you’re seeing (let’s say it’s multiple tantrums per day). We know that the part we can see is only a tiny fraction of the whole issue, right?
Generally, the part we can’t see, what’s underneath these behaviours, is built up EMOTIONS.
Everyday we experience emotions. Everyday our children experience emotions, regardless of how consciously we’re parenting. When we don’t express those emotions because of our social conditioning, that emotional energy builds up in the body which leads to tension, agitation and leads our children to behave in those ways that we see as the tip of the iceberg.
So this is why I tend to talk about these types of behaviours as symptoms or signals of a much bigger issue. And this is why I like to support mothers in resolving this underlying issue rather than just focusing on the behaviours themselves which to me seems like a bandaid solution.
If we solve this underlying issue, the challenging behaviours are naturally going to fall away.
I always like to relate it back to you so you can get a really clear picture of how emotional energy in the body contributes to challenging behaviours for your child.
I want you to think of a time when you had an argument or didn’t speak up/ speak your truth about something and it’s still niggling and churning around inside hours later.
That’s an example of emotional energy still sitting in your body.
Think about all the little things that might happen on a day to day basis:
Maybe you’re worried about how you’re going to pay that electricity bill
or you’re feeling anxious about starting a new job tomorrow,
or your child refuses the breakfast you spent 45 minutes making and throws it on the floor
or you’re running late for an appointment and child spills juice down your top 🤦🏼♀️
If you keep sweeping it all under the carpet, that emotional energy is going to be building and building in the body.
So how do you feel when you have all that going on?
- distracted, finding it difficult to be calm and present
- agitated, more likely to react harshly
It’s exactly the same for your kids!
Think about all the things that happen with your kids on a daily basis:
Maybe they’re really frustrated that they couldn’t tie their shoes
Maybe they’re disappointed because you said they could go to the park and now it’s raining and they can’t go
Maybe they’re angry because their brother or sister broke their toy.
Maybe they really wanted pancakes for breakfast and you made porridge.
How are they going to feel and react with all those emotions building and building under the surface, day after day?
- distracted: clingy, demanding, finding it hard to be calm, present or settle into independent play
- agitated, more likely to lash out
So when something little happens like you cutting their sandwiches the wrong way, this is why your child can have big disproportionate reactions and tantrums. They’re not trying to manipulate you. It’s just the last straw.
It’s not really about the sandwich at all, it’s about all the other stuff that’s been building up.
So, how to solve the real issue?
There’s two main ways that we can help or kids to release all the emotional energy that they have built up.
- The first way is through LAUGHTER. This involves increasing connection, emotional safety and promote healing laughter through purposeful play with your child.
- The second way is through TEARS. This involves getting comfortable with emotions, learning to set positive limits with challenging behaviours, learning to hold space and understanding the healing benefits of crying (with your support).
If you have any questions or would like some support with this, I’d love to hear from you! You can take a look at my online programs or get in touch through my Facebook group and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.