Everyone one of us has encountered, enjoyed, and shared forward that one meme across social media platforms. You are aware of how it usually goes from there. There’s a little kid in the midst of throwing a tantrum in the supermarket, in the backseat of a car, or right outside their school. And you’re familiar with the expressions as well; there is a red puffy face, eyes which are about to tear up, and a runny nose. That child on your phone screen looks like they’ve just lost all hope in life, and of course, it is accompanied by a text that says: ‘I wasn’t allowed to play with dad’s toolkit.’
It is not hard to guess why this one joke manages to land well every single time while also gaining several thousand shares, likes, and comments. The reason being that it is just so relatable. It is the story of every parent out there who is engaged in a constant tussle with their kid. Kids throwing a tantrum is not only common, but it occurs over the most insignificant of things in everyday life.
If you’re bringing up a tiny tot, tantrums are going to be an inevitable part of your life. The most frustrating thing is how your child can throw tantrums almost any time of the day, and you just won’t see it coming. However, a recent New York Times article reveals that it might be time to re-think posting a picture or video of your kid mid-tantrum, according to psychologists Rebecca Schrag Hershberg and Daniel T. Willingham (1).
Of course, it is funny to see your little one pout their face or start making noises because they want to have their milk from a certain color mug, and nothing less than that would do. Moreover, it is only natural that you’d want to share these moments online.
However, the trouble lies with you making fun of this incident.
Sure, it seems like a harmless joke that all parents might relate to while recounting their own experiences of dealing with such a situation. But the thing is, your kid is acting like they have undergone some huge problem because, from a child’s perspective of the world, these changes or incidents are pretty big. And that is why it isn’t something that should be brushed under the carpet with a good laugh. On the contrary, it would help to try and understand this situation a little better.
Just because the reasons behind their agitation seem unreasonable or incomprehensible to you does not make these problems less significant as far as they are concerned.
It is common for adults to not consider the feelings of small children as real as their own. So it falls on you as the parent to handle such instances with kindness and patience, even though sometimes these tantrums manage to get on your nerves.
There is no doubt that children need to learn how to take a joke in the right spirit, but this kind of learning is gradual and must begin in a secure home and family environment. Moreover, your child throwing a tantrum is not the appropriate time to impart this teaching.
While a social media post appears harmless when you’re dealing with your child’s tantrums, they also distance you from the gravity of this situation from the perspective of your little one. A better approach would be to not focus on the outside world and pay attention to how your child is feeling and what they’re battling from within.
At the same time, you should also be sensitive to the emotions running through your head and observe your body’s reaction to the situation. It could be that you’re breathing rapidly or that your heart is pounding. The first thing to do would be to try and compose yourself by taking deep breaths and counting down to ten.
The next step would be to slowly transfer this calmness to your kid. Making sure that your child knows how to deal with their emotions (especially when they may be feeling anxious) is an important life skill that will help them navigate troubled waters throughout their lives.
When you’re caught in the middle of a tantrum, your first instinct is to lose your calm or laugh it off. But both these reactions are only going to give you momentary satisfaction. Humor allows you to cope with difficult situations, but the important thing to keep in mind is that you should always be laughing along with your kids and not at them.
There are times when parenting can test your limits, especially when your kid is in the middle of a meltdown and you just don’t have the energy to deal with it. But sometimes, raising a child requires you not to take the easy path. You may be compelled to act on your gut without taking the trouble to investigate your child’s emotions. But it is only through a conscious effort to empathize with your child that you can understand the root cause of their behavior and help them cope with it.