Toddlerhood can seem to be synonymous with tantrums. They tend to happen in the worst possible places at the most inappropriate times, leaving you wondering if you are cut out to be a parent. The fact you even have these thoughts indicates you are doing a fine job. Meltdowns are simply part of life with a toddler.
In fact, those terrible temper tantrums can have numerous benefits. Hard to believe, perhaps, but true. Learning how grumpy breakdowns and all-out fits might actually help your little one develop might make it easier for you to make it through those tender, yet trying early years.
1. Experiencing Feelings
When you consider that every single emotion is relatively new to someone who has only been on this earth a handful of years, you gain a bit of perspective. A tantrum means your little one is experiencing frustration, anger, sadness, fear or any combination of big feelings. Acknowledging those emotions and letting her know they are normal and okay can go a long way.
2. Learning to Deal
Handling those heavy emotions can be difficult for grownups, let alone someone in the under-five set. Your toddler is trying out responses to these feelings. By responding calmly yourself and modeling how to react to unhappy situations (such as a meltdown), you are helping your tot learn how to cope.
3. Exhibiting Self-Awareness
Your toddler knows what he wants, but may not yet know how to express this self-awareness. This can be tremendously frustrating for him, so the tantrums ensue. Teaching him how to name these feelings, such as by saying, “You feel disappointed that we have to leave Grandma’s house now” can lessen the fear and frustration he is experiencing.
4. Cultivating Self-Confidence
During their toddler years, kids begin to understand they are separate from their parents. They develop a sense of autonomy, realizing that they can say, “No!” to assert their independence. Tantrums can be an extension of this knowledge, as they walk the fine line between needing you and feeling good about doing things for themselves.
5. Building a Bond
Meltdowns are no fun for moms and dads, but your kiddo doesn’t especially enjoy them either. Learning you unconditionally support her feelings and will always provide a safe place to let go will deepen your child’s sense of trust in you. She will feel more self-assured knowing that she has a safety net in this sometimes-scary world as she learns how to regulate herself.
6. Becoming Reflective
Calmly helping your child through a tantrum and discussing her feelings, responses and alternative reactions can help her tune in to those emotions. She will begin to reflect on how she felt and behaved, encouraging her to recognize emotions and respond more appropriately in the future.
7. Discovering Empathy
As your toddler experiences tantrums and gains deeper understanding of his feelings, he will also have a greater awareness of others’ emotions. When you convey that you recognize, accept and sympathize with what he is going through, he acquires skills to behave compassionately towards others.
8. Boosting Brain Development
Your tot’s brain is not yet fully wired. In fact, it won’t be completely developed until she’s in her 20s. When you react in a healthy and appropriate manner to a tantrum, you are actually helping wire a child’s brain to make good choices and deal with whatever life throws at her in a positive way.
9. Parenting Skills Schooling
A great deal of learning how to parent is through trial by fire. Your toddler’s meltdowns can help you learn numerous skills that will help throughout your child’s life, such as digging deeper to discover what’s really going on, focusing on self-control and setting consistent expectations.
Pro tip: this, too, shall pass!