Believe it or not, temper tantrums are an important part of your toddler’s emotional health and well-being.
Toddler tantrums are one of the most challenging aspects of parenting. We tend to feel like good parents when our toddlers are smiley and at ease, but can feel helpless and overwhelmed when they are lying on the floor kicking and screaming. However, believe it or not, toddler tantrums are an important part of our child’s emotional health and well-being, and we can learn to be calmer in the face of them. Here are 10 important reasons why your toddler’s tantrum is actually a good thing.
1. Better out than in
Tears contain cortisol, the stress hormone. When we cry, we are literally releasing stress from our bodies. Tears have also been found to lower blood pressure and improve emotional well-being, provided there’s a loved one close for support. You may have noticed that when your toddler is on the brink of a tantrum, nothing is right. She is angry, frustrated, or whining. You may have also noticed that after the storm has passed, she is in a much better mood. It helps if we let our kids tantrum without trying to interrupt the process so they get to the end of their feelings. “Crying is not the hurt, but the process of becoming unhurt,” explains Deborah MacNamara, Ph.D., a parent educator and author of Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (or Anyone Who Acts Like One).
2. Crying may help your child learn
A few years ago I was working as a babysitter for a 5-year-old. He was building with some Legos and started having a tantrum because he got stuck. However, after having the tantrum, he sat down and fixed the Lego structure. I’ve seen many moments like this, where a child is struggling and expressing their frustration helps them to clear their minds so they can learn something new. “Learning is as natural to children as breathing,” says Patty Wipfler, the founder of Hand in Hand Parenting. “But when a child isn’t able to concentrate or listen, there’s usually an emotional issue that’s blocking his progress.” Research suggests that, for learning to take place, a child must be happy and relaxed, and expressing emotional upset is all part of this process.
3. Your child may sleep better
Sleep problems often occur because we parents think the best approach to tantrums and upsets is to try to avoid them. Then, a child’s pent-up emotions bubble up when his brain is at rest. Just like adults, children also wake because they’re stressed or trying to process something that’s happening in their lives. Allowing your child to get to the end of her tantrum improves her emotional well-being and may help her sleep through the night.
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