Tame that TANTRUM

Rais­ing a happy child is not easy. You need to bond and not rep­ri­mand, in­still con­fi­dence not cul­ti­vate com­plexes.

India Today - - COVER STORY - La­har Bhat­na­gar Par­ent­ing coach, Delhi

Alot of grumpy faced par­ents come to me and are con­fused about why their chil­dren are not happy though they have done ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble as a par­ent. They have more re­sources, toys, lux­ury, com­forts, holi­days, guid­ance and good school­ing, yet they are al­ways crib­bing about some­thing. To un­der­stand hap­pi­ness in our chil­dren, we have to find out the un­der­ly­ing par­ent­ing re­lated psy­chol­ogy.

Smil­ing doesn’t equate to hap­pi­ness

A child can be shy and yet be happy and doesn’t have to prove his hap­pi­ness by al­ways smil­ing and laugh­ing. It’s per­fectly okay to let your shy kid be shy. The re­verse is also true. An ex­tro­vert, party dancer child can also be in­ter­nally un­happy. What you should check for is con­tent­ment. As long as a child seems con­tent and emo­tion­ally sta­ble, it doesn’t mat­ter if she or he is an ex­tro­vert who is al­ways scream­ing or an in­tro­vert with a few words to say.

It’s wrong to ex­pect per­ma­nent hap­pi­ness

We hold our chil­dren to un­real ex­pec­ta­tions when it comes to their emo­tional well-be­ing. How is a child al­ways sup­posed to be happy? How can a lit­tle one not have an out­burst or snatch a toy or get into a scuf­fle? Can we al­ways be happy, smil­ing and brim­ming with joy all the time? Don’t we have days when we just don’t feel up to it?

Treat your child’s emo­tions with ma­tu­rity

As long as emo­tions are concerned, chil­dren feel the same emo­tions as we adults do. They feel joy, sad­ness, jeal­ousy and anx­i­ety. The joy may be in the smaller things and sad­ness may be be­cause of a small scratch on their favourite toy. Th­ese things might be small for you but for your child they mean the world.

Teach the child about the con­se­quences of re­ac­tions

When the brain doesn’t have dif­fer­ent cen­tres for good or bad emo­tions then why should we clas­sify them? Why is sad­ness termed bad while hap­pi­ness is a good emo­tion? Emo­tions are a way of com­mu­ni­ca­tion your child uses to let you know what’s hap­pen­ing in his world. Why shut down some chan­nels of com­mu­ni­ca­tion by call­ing them bad? Train a child early on that while it’s nat­u­ral to feel any emo­tion, re­act­ing to them is the key.

Help the child re­call past in­ci­dents

Re­call is a great strat­egy for help­ing chil­dren deal with tem­per tantrums. Let the child get over the tantrum and a few days later, when there is no tiff be­tween you and the child, sit him down and ask him if he re­mem­bers his visit to the su­per market. And then tell him to re­call his visit. The child is sure to bring up the tantrum he threw in his re­call story and tell you what he was feel­ing and what led to his melt­down. Run him through the story and help him un­der­stand how he could have used his re­ac­tions con­struc­tively. The same goes for so-called happy emo­tions.

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