A child cries, has a tantrum, pulls on his father to make him listen to him, pushes whatever is put in front of him … All of these are behaviors that our sons and daughters perform to get our attention because they need us at that moment.
Although these acts and behaviors cause discomfort to parents, These are calls for attention that alert us that a need of our child is not covered, be it affective, physiological, social or cognitive.
Tantrums as a wake-up call
Many times this wake-up call is made because they have no other way of expressing what they feel. This is the case with the so-called “tantrums”, natural behaviors in children. From the age of two to four, this stage begins in which children express their emotions through yelling, tantrums or tantrums. For example, An angry child is someone who does not know how to recognize his emotion and does not know how to deal with it and decides to express it by kicking and screaming.
In these cases, children do not know how to express their emotions correctly since they do not have developed the part of the brain of the neocortex that controls impulses. Their emotions and their corresponding behaviors can arise when they do not feel like doing something, when they have a need that we have not covered or when they have a desire and it is not fulfilled.
Children without covered needs
When our children grow up but there are bad behaviors, we ask ourselves: what can happen, what have I done wrong? María Soto, an expert in positive discipline and creator of Educa Bonito, points out that many times we worry much more about the behavior and the call for attention and we do not pay attention to the emotion that hides behind that action. “His behavior is important, but the emotion for which he reacts like this is more important,” he says. And it is that this disobedience and that discomfort that our son presents is his way of reacting to an unmet need.
Positive discipline explains these wake-up calls through iceberg theory. We as parents see the visible part of the iceberg, that is, we see bad behaviors. For example, hitting his sister, pushing us, not doing homework … However, we do not see the submerged part of the iceberg, which is the cause of that misbehavior, the beliefs that motivate it and the stop. what behaves like this. “This prevents us from solving the problem. We are limiting ourselves to trying to control the “wrong” behavior of our children, and this will only lead us to get frustrated because we will not succeed, ”says Soto.
María gives us an example to understand the theory better: “Imagine that my eldest son beats my youngest daughter and I punish him to penalize her behavior (visible part of the iceberg). However, he does not look at the invisible part of the iceberg to understand what is motivating him to hit his sister. In this case, he does it because he is jealous. Tomorrow, instead of hitting him, he will hide his toys. I will punish him again. But his mistaken belief (thinking that I love his sister more) will still be there ”.
Reaction to these behaviors
Many parents do not know how to react to these calls for attention from children. Especially when these behaviors occur on the street. The psychologist Alberto Soler says that many times we do not know how to react to a tantrum because we act more in front of others, because of the looks when a tantrum occurs in a public space, than because of how our son is.
It is not always successful when we try to calm our child when they have an emotion such as anger and sometimes we get infected with that emotion, we lose our nerves and resort to yelling or punishment to stop them from performing that behavior. Therefore, the most important thing is to try to remain calm in order to redirect our son’s behavior. These four tips can help us calm the emotion of our son or daughter:
- Get down to his level and look him in the eye: Only then can we calm the child, since being at the same height, he will be much more receptive.
- Don’t yell at them: Although it is very difficult not to scream in certain situations, we have to think that screaming will only aggravate the situation and the bond with our son will worsen.
- Convey unconditional love: Expressing expressions of love and affection can help calm them. Likewise, it can be accompanied by phrases in a calm tone such as: “Honey, I love you very much, but this is not possible.”
- Redirect once the crisis has subsided: In the midst of an emotional outburst, as much as we want to appeal to our son’s rational mind, he will not understand anything. We can go over to talk to him when he has calmed down about what has happened.
How to reduce the calls for attention in the long term
It is a long-term process whereby if your needs are attended to, these calls will be reduced:
Meeting your needs
Above all, their emotional needs, both respecting and letting them express their emotions and leaving behind emotional manipulation and blackmail.
We must establish clear limits from positive discipline. Jane Nelsen, the creator of this way of educating, points out that we must be kind and firm with these limits. “Let’s imagine your child yells at you. A polite and firm way to approach this situation is to leave the room. You cannot force anyone to treat you with respect, but we can treat each other with respect. Leaving is one way of doing it. When a while has passed, and we have all calmed down, we can say to our child: Honey, I’m sorry you got angry, I respect your feelings, but not how you express them. As long as you disrespect me, I’ll go away for a while. I love you and I want to be with you, so when you are ready to treat me with respect, you can tell me and I will be happy to find other ways to resolve your anger that are respectful for both of us, ”she says.
Teach them to self-regulate
Sometimes, we are the parents themselves who want and demand that our children control and manage their manners, their bad mood, their impulsiveness and the way they do certain things. Ultimately, we expect that our children will calm their own anger (well, they provoke it, they will have to find the solution, right?). “Nothing is further from reality. Our mission is to regulate our children, to restore calm so that, when he is an adult, he knows how to do it himself. Our children still don’t know how to do it any other way. You only get to emotional self-regulation by going through hetero-regulation (someone else regulates you) ”, Rafa Guerrero reminds us.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.