Next time you see a child throw a temper tantrum, pay attention. You might just learn something about yourself.
What in the world am I talking about??
Let’s start with some limiting beliefs. It’s probably safe to say:
- Most people see temper tantrums as a negative thing.
- Most adults are uncomfortable in the presence of a temper tantrum.
Sound about right?
Ok, now let’s define what a temper tantrum really is.
From my perspective:
A temper tantrum is an example of how we move emotion fully through our body.
That’s why they seem so intense. All the yelling, screaming and crying is the body’s form of letting out emotion in a very raw and uncontrollable way. By not controlling them, we’re experiencing a full expression of emotion.
This emotion comes from feelings. Typically, a temper tantrum is a mix of anger, fear and sadness.
A child throwing a tantrum in a toy store is a perfect example.
It usually starts as Anger
– Something needs to change – child wants a new toy.
Then it can evolve into Fear
– Something needs to be known – child starts yelling and screaming to make this known.
And then it can evolve into Sadness
– Something needs to be let go of – child starts crying when realizing they won’t get the toy.
And the best part of a temper tantrum?
Once it’s over, it’s over.
Have you ever noticed how young children throw a tantrum and then completely forget about it 5 minutes later? Yep, that’s because they moved all that anger, fear and sadness through their body. There’s nothing left so they’ve shifted their attention elsewhere.
But what do adults do when we experience stress?
We don’t throw a temper tantrum. Nope. We’ve been conditioned to suppress the emotion and keep it buried in our bodies. We block the real feelings and tell ourselves all kinds of stories about why it doesn’t matter, why we shouldn’t be mad/sad/scared, why we should be strong, etc.
Then years later we have an “ah-hah” moment when we realize the trauma and actually feel the real emotion.
And why are we conditioned this way?
Because when we were younger our parents told us not to throw a tantrum! They literally taught us how to NOT feel our feelings.
Because it made them uncomfortable, like I said in the first place.
It still makes most parents uncomfortable because they’re not in tune with their own emotions. They fear being a parent who’s child throws a tantrum for all kinds of reasons.
Have you ever witnessed a parent who yells back when their kid throws a tantrum? Yep, that’s their anger firing right back, which is usually guarding the real fear (or sadness) deeper inside.
In short, most parents simply lack emotional awareness and intelligence to hold space for a temper tantrum. That’s why it makes them uncomfortable.
Ok, my game of question and answer is over. I appreciate you playing 🙂
I’ll leave you with a few points to consider.
- Consider a temper tantrum for what it really is, a demonstration of emotions. These emotions can teach us a lot about ourselves.
- Then consider if we [parents] can actually learn from our children in these moments. Why do we fear being in the presence of real emotions?
- And finally, consider why you don’t throw tantrums, or why you’re committed to not fully feeling your feelings. What kind of emotion are you suppressing?
Ali is a creator who's passionate about coaching people through desired self transformation. That's a fancy way of saying he wants to help people do their inner work. He's a father, husband, podcaster, blogger, technologist and many other things that inspire him to stay curious and learn. He's also a huge advocate for nature, hiking, adventure, testing physical limits and experiencing the natural world.