Among all the small daily flaws that give mom and dad a hard time, tantrums, fits of anger, crying fits or crises defined as hysterics are often very famous because:
1️⃣ It is not known why children make them . When we want to give us an explanation we put forward hypothetical reasons such as “he is tired”, “he wants to make me angry”, “it will be the terrible 2 years” …
2️⃣ annoy the eye and the parents’ hearts
3️⃣ It worries and irritates that you don’t know how to resolve the anger or cry crisis and get the situation back to normal
In short, they are the thing that, in the long run, adults just find it hard to bear .
Whims are many things, one different from the other, always unique with different shades from time to time.
They sneak up when you least expect it and can seemingly go wild for whatever reason, we don’t really know what they depend on and are terribly unpredictable.
But there is one really important thing to know: whims are not “whims”… and they don’t exist
The Hoepli online dictionary tells us that whims are:
Weird, unusual, sudden, generally ephemeral desire. Bizarre and stubborn idea, unreasonable and arbitrary behavior. An unusual, incomprehensible event, phenomenon .
Since these manifestations of the child we do not know how to understand them over time we have learned to define them “whims”.
Just like bizarre, unusual, sudden, fleeting and transient behavior, but also stubborn, unreasonable.
Questionable and unauthorized. Incomprehensible.
And this is the idiocy. Just because these behaviors are incomprehensible and unmanageable to us and have become whims, doesn’t mean they really are. And in fact they are not at all.
All the behaviors of children that we absentmindedly categorize as whims are always manifestations of discomfort and an attempt to communicate a difficulty that they cannot express in words .
If children and young people knew how to express everything in words, you can be sure they would!
The trouble is that too often we mistake children for little adults and we believe that just as we are good at acting and manipulating they are too and therefore they stage drama and brilliant theaters.
But children are not like that, if they hear white they express white, if they hear black they express black.
So when they cry, when they put their feet up, when they throw themselves on the ground, when they insist on something, they are not acting at all.
Therefore, they always have a good reason and our difficulty as adults lies in understanding what lies behind and what our child is trying to tell us.
Matteo comes back from school and plays “whims”: he just wants white pasta
For example, Matteo wakes up one morning and no longer finds his favorite game in his room, he is angry and carries that emotional knot of sadness with him.
Here maybe, when he comes back from school with his ” baggage of emotions ” boiling unresolved , he manifests external symptoms such as the refusal to sit in his place at the table and demands white pasta while you have already put the red sauce in all the dishes …
If you only consider his external behavior, it is evident that he is having a “tantrum” for you and maybe you think that a simple raise of his voice or a punishment could be the solution.
If, on the other hand, you put yourself in his shoes, you discover that he is just angry and, not yet having the ability to tell his feelings in words and to analyze them, he expresses his discomfort with external behaviors, which we call tantrums.
Here is the cause!
How to deal with capricious children? 5 solutions for anger fits, crying fits or hysterics
Now let’s see 5 practical indications that can immediately help you understand the “capricious” behaviors of your children.
1️⃣ Get close to your child by making yourself available to listen to him before making rash judgments
2️⃣ Avoid the accusatory tone , ask in a neutral and calm way what happened, without using the usual phrases
” What have you done? ”
” But why do you have to do this now? “(The accusation makes him feel misunderstood and closes even more)
3️⃣ Listen carefully, looking him in the eye and taking seriously everything he says to you, without thinking that they are excuses or that he is telling you lies (remember that he always has a valid reason)
4️⃣ Go beyond his words : let your intuition do its part and regardless of the story of the child that may or may not reflect his true state of mind, try to capture it anyway, identifying the feeling behind it.
It could be that your child is feeling lonely, not listened to, little looked at, or that he needs pampering, of your total presence, or that he is really hungry, sleepy, or afraid, or angry about something.
5️⃣ Reassure him and help him in practice to solve the situation : for example if he tells you that he is angry because he has lost his favorite game, you can say: “love, you’re right, you can’t find the game and this makes you sad, let’s go to the bedroom right away. and let’s go hunting for the game, you’ll see that we find it ”.
What if you don’t find it?
Here too he finds a practical solution, for example, you reassure him and tell him that in the afternoon you can go out together and buy another one, or that you will undertake to look for it well in the next few days even at the grandparents’ house or at school.
What will the result be?
He will feel understood why you went to “catch” his emotional knot and, by helping him in the practice, he will calm down and this will increase his degree of trust in you, because he is aware that mum and dad are able to understand and help him.
The trust and esteem built up through these small but large actions will be fundamental for all subsequent stages of growth.
The 3 obstacles that put parents in difficulty
The main difficulties are 3 in all, let’s find out together.
👉 The first obstacle
The first is the great difficulty in recognizing the child’s real need and not to confuse it with a “whim” or with a hysterical fit without a valid reason.
Most of the times it is paradoxically easier to label the child’s behavior as “capricious” and delegate responsibility to him, rather than seeing ours and having to do something effective immediately.
👉 The second obstacle
Not knowing how to solve the situation in practice.
👉 The third obstacle
We tend to want to resolve the crisis with the aim of calming things down, of returning to a sort of normalcy, of not having too many scratchers to manage and to make the child feel good (that is: that he does not cry, do not scream, do not you swear, be calm, listen and give few problems, so it means that you are fine).
In truth, if the child feels free to express a problem or an inner emotion it means that he is fine.
Much better than children who feel forced by survival to indulge their parents and adapt to their patterns in order to be loved.
The main objective must instead be to get to the bottom of our child’s feeling, to identify the deep motivation, act on that, finding the optimal solution for the child and not for us.
Is it better to stem and stop the whims or is it better to understand and welcome them? (10 doubts resolved)
Below you will find the answers to some frequently asked questions about “whims”.
1. Why do children have tantrums?
In this article, I explore what the behaviors that we adults label as “capricious” really are. You will also find practical examples such as:
- Turn off the TV with screams and threats or turn it off without whims?
- What if my 2-year-old is always asking for chocolate?
- The Anticipation of the Need (i.e. the whims of children, anger attacks or hysterics are prevented and resolved)
READ IT HERE: Why your child’s tantrums aren’t hysterical and inexplicable behaviors (and how you can fix them without yelling or scolding)
2. What are the terrible 2 years? When does this phase end?
Most mothers wonder when the terrible 2-year (or terrible 3) phase begins and ends and how long this period lasts. You will find that the solution is never to focus on a defined terrible phase at 2, 3 or 4 years of your child …
READ IT HERE: What if the terrible 2 years didn’t exist? And the terrible 3 years?
3. My child does not listen to me and does not accept the rules: what can I do?
Often conflicts with children, “tantrums” and power struggles are caused by the difficulty in being listened to, having a limit or a no accepted. Find out why your child doesn’t cooperate, doesn’t accept your No’s, or doesn’t respect your rules.
READ IT HERE: Does your child not listen? Find out why he doesn’t accept the rules and yours doesn’t
4. How to calm aggression in children and young people?
Sometimes angry and very nervous children can become aggressive and break objects, scratch, bite or beat their parents. Discover the 5 reasons that trigger aggression and the 4 solutions to manage episodes of children’s anger.
READ IT HERE: Stop being aggressive! 5 reasons that trigger the aggression of children with their parents and at school
5. Children’s tantrums out of jealousy: how do I handle quarrels and jealousies between siblings?
Find out how to manage the quarrel between your children that started when you were not there, 4 steps to resolve (and 1 to prevent) if your children are always fighting.
READ IT HERE: Stop fighting! The 4 steps to resolve quarrels between your children
6. Are punishments for children useful or harmful?
Punishment is the most ineffective weapon to resolve “whims”, power struggles, episodes of nervousness, jealousy and quarrels of children.
READ IT HERE: Punishment is the most effective way to repress your child (and that disintegrates his trust in you)
7. What book can I read to solve my child’s whims?
You can start from the book “Stop doing whims” (Mondadori editions): how to solve your child’s whims without yelling and scolding, even if you think you have already tried them all
8. How to handle the whims of 1 year olds? What to do with capricious and disobedient children at 4 years old?
There are 3 basic guidelines for understanding the cause of any kind of “whim” in your child: 1. the emotional knot, 2. the real motivation, and 3. the rules. It doesn’t matter if your child is 2, 6 or 8 years old today. The principles to follow are always the same.