Monday, October 7, 2013

Kids with Tantrums Equals Parents with Trauma

The next door apartment where I live is occupied by a single mom and her 6 year old daughter. Every morning at around 6:30, the mother and child get into a screaming match. The mother gets pissed when her daughter is slow in finishing her breakfast. The child would start yelling that she wants hot dogs. The mom shouts at her child to hurry up getting dressed because the school bus will be arriving soon. The child would not budge because she's still watching cartoons. A screaming match would ensue, doors would slam, the child would match her mother's yells with her own loud crying.

And this goes on every single day.

Tantrums. Oh, am I so lucky that none of my children gave me this kind of stress. 

For the last 2 years I have been observing the mother-child relationship of my next door neighbor. The mom has to work to support her child. She's still pretty young, I would say late 20's to early 30's. She has a live-in nanny to look after the child while she's at work. There are no young children in our apartment complex so the child usually stays indoors. During weekends, I would hear her drilling her daughter over spelling lessons, grammar lessons and forcing her to come up with artwork. Lately, I have learned that the child is doing poorly in school and that she has to repeat Kindergarten class.  

One day, the child was screaming at the top of her lungs - "All I want is a hug!!!" and the mother's same decibel response was "I have to take a shower, I will be late for work!!!" Can you imagine the child's frustration over that? I would throw a tantrum too, if I were her child.

What exactly are tantrums? They are temper flares usually seen in children less than 4 years old. Early manifestations may be triggered by an unsatisfied want - like a toy, a preferred food or playtime. Contrary to belief, it is not about getting attention. Studies have shown that tantrums are the result of a child's inability to handle strong emotions like anger or frustration.

As a parent, dealing with a child with tantrums can be stressful. The most common advice passed down from generations is to ignore the child when the screaming starts. We should let the child know why they can't have what they want when they want it and then let them vent out their anger. After their fit, parents need to provide the child reassurance by telling them what needs to be done and when it should be done. If, out of frustration, a parent gives in to the child's demand, the child will recognize this as a manipulative tactic to get their way every time. We must look out for "trigger factors" to address the tantrum even before it starts.

We should also consider other factors that affect the child's behavior. Are they getting enough attention? Do they have a good relationship with their peers at school? Is the child stressed over something? Are we pushing the child too hard to excel in something beyond their capabilities? Tantrums are usually lesser in occurrence as the child gets older, however, if the child is over 4 years old and poses danger of hurting themselves or others, it might be time to seek professional advice. 

Photo courtesy of
Our primary role as parents is to provide love, care and understanding to our children. Maintain a happy, healthy home where our children can learn independence, patience and respect. Be generous with the hugs, the kisses, the cuddling. Provide quality time. A simple "How was your day, sweetie?" would be enough to start a conversation. Read them a book, watch TV together, tuck them in at night and never forget to say "I love you" every time, all the time.

Before I end, I want to share this beautiful poem by Dorothy Law Nolte entitled "Children Learn What They Live"

Dorothy Law Nolte

If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight.
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself.
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns what envy is.
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident.
If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative.
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.
If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with recognition, he learns that it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with sharing, he learns about generosity.
If a child lives with honesty and fairness, he learns what truth and justice are.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and in those about him.
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.
If you live with serenity, your child will live with peace of mind.

Happy Monday to all the parents around the world! Blessings of love and peace!


  1. I pray your little neighbor gets the hug she longs for everyday ?

  2. Typo on the comment above hehe, that was supposed to be a heart instead of a ? Hehe

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. This post really touched me. I have no clue why some people want to have chilren when all they do is use these cuties to relieve everyday stress. Shame on them!

  5. Oh, tantrums. Our oldest at 4.5 has never had a tantrum, while our youngest who just turned 2, started throwing them at 9 months. Parenting to each child's needs is a challenge for sure. We've definitely learned what the triggers are for our youngest and his tantrums. I sure hope your neighbor and her sweet daughter can get in sync soon.

  6. It is tough being a parent and no one gave us a manual on how to raise kids. I can see the child being upset because she needs and wants a hug, but sometimes kids learn young to throw a tantrum to get what they want.

    1. I forgot to add, I think the mother should have stopped and given the kid a quick hug and a kiss...

  7. Aww this breaks my heart! I have a 6 yr old daughter and he are I get into it pretty bad sometimes but I NEVER not hug, kiss or say I love you as much as we yell at each other. There needs to be a middle ground and a good balance which is not always easy to find :(

  8. Very interesting concept!! Thank you for sharing! I love the poem!

  9. I'm not a mom, so it's not as easy for me to connect to a mother and child mid-tantrum. But it sounds like this girl needs some attention, and the mother some rest. :(

  10. My daughters throw tantrums from time to time, but after reading your post, it seems like your neighbors tantrums may be due to the fact that she needs some love and attention!

  11. I would knock on their door and be like, "can I give her a hug.." My kids throw these when they don't get their way, I don't baby them or give in. But if my child wants a hug, they will get a hug.

  12. It sounds like that Mum needs a break :( I try hard not to judge parents because although my first born was never a tamtrum-thrower, my second is and it's so upsetting. We are an attachment family and there are plenty of hugs available, and I feel awful for the little one wanting a hug. Mommas who are stretched thin are stressed and little ones pick up on that too :( I hope things ease for them both soon.

  13. After a long day with my twin two-year-olds and one-year-old I came across your website and am so glad to have read these words. We deal with tantrums almost daily and I fear that being one of three toddlers in the house is hard for all our kids. I love this reminder of what might be going on. Thank you!

  14. It is so hard to be a parent! You think you know what's best and that you will do xyz with your child, but you always get thrown for a loop!!

    Katie @ Cup of Tea

  15. Oh, a hug is very important especially when your kids are little, it makes them feel loved, safe, sand special!

  16. OMG! I won't survived that kind of neighbor. I will get mad. The more you yelled your kid's the more they won't listen to you. You need to find tactic in discipline if one doesn't work.

  17. We all have much to learn from our kids!

  18. parenting is so hard that sometimes, we need help from our partners, however in your neighbor's case she has to deal with it and face with the tantrums, after all kids does that for reason and when they are old enough to learn and understand we can always tells them to help us out.

  19. Tantrums can be very stressful for every parent. But i guess there is a way on how to less it. If only we spend more time to our kids and know their needs. I think growing tantrums can be avoided .

  20. You are pretty dumb right Sis. Lucky me, all my kids are behave now when they were young. But as grown ups, yaks. sakit sa ulo.

  21. I am very blessed that my daughter never threw a hissy fit even until now that she's a teen. I don't want to take credit for bringing her up the way she is now but I guess, it has something to do with the kind of example we have set for her while she was growing up. There was no shouting nor name calling at home. Just the usual conversations of grown ups on the banality of life. :) I have, on the other hand, nephews and nieces who cried bloody murder when they didn't get their way. I've seen their parents crumble to every whim so I am kind of expecting bratty kids when they grow up.

    I always talk to my daughter about asking nicely and saying please and not to get disappointed when she doesn't get what she wants. There's always a next time. I think, that stuck in her like glue. When we take her to a toy store, she'd hold her favorite doll and would ask, "Ma, if you have money, can you buy me this?" Oh, my heart melts every time I remember that but I am very glad I didn't give in because that wouldn't give her enough reason to work hard for something she really like. At least now, she appreciates the value of earning something because she worked hard for it and deserved it. Tantrums... It's not in our vocabulary. hahaha


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