As an Aware Parenting instructor I am often in sessions explaining to parents the difference between big feelings and what our mainstream culture calls Tantrums.
This is a word I truly dislike, and I do feel like it does a huge disservice to our beautiful children. In older parenting paradigms a tantrum was used to describe our children as:
– Trying to manipulate you
– They would need to be punished or bribed to get them to stop
– We were told as parents to send them to ‘time out’ and leave them on their own to learn to “self-regulate” their emotions.
– Just ignore them, or it will keep happening repeatedly.
What children who experience any of the above began to release is that if they behave in these ways, the person they love and adore most in the world will take their love away from them. This teaches them not to “regulate” their emotions, but rather to suppress their feelings because they are not safe to share these with their parent.
What if we could instead rename these tantrums and call them a ‘release of big feelings’. That in this moment your baby, toddler, or child is not trying to manipulate you or make your life hard, but is rather releasing their feelings in the most natural way their bodies knows how. Crying is healing.