Teasing out the Tantrums

by MJ Fisher

B. Soc. Sc.; GradDip Teaching; Dip. Care and Ed.

Tantrums are an everyday occurrence for parents around the globe.  Some are carried off with little fuss and are over within the blink of an eye, while others, unfortunately, seem to be vying for a place in the tantrum Olympics.  The type of tantrum that is dealt with at the speed of a sneeze is by no means the type of incident that adults find themselves concerned with.  Instead, it is the lengthier ones that leave them feeling like they have to be scraped off the floor with a spatula that bring the trials of child-rearing into sharp focus. 

While little can be done to obliterate the existence of tantrums from our lives completely, they can be lessened if the adult dealing with them is savvy to the reasons that make them exist in the first place.  In this article two such reasons will be discussed.

What’s the motivation?

When getting to the bottom of a tantrum it is helpful to be able to pinpoint what thought or action triggered it in the first place.  As human beings, we are all susceptible to a belief system that correlates with our way of life.  For example, believing in Santa Clause brings with it the belief to buy gifts to go under a decorated tree.  If this belief system is disrupted then unhappiness would likely follow, for instance, waking up on Christmas Day and discovering no presents would invoke emotions ranging from disappointment to anger (depending on the individual). 

The motivating factor behind a child’s tantrum correlates in the same way as the above example, although it will not always be quite as obvious.  For example...