Why Your Child Having A “Tantrum” Means That You’re A Great Parent

Picture this with me if you please…

You’ve just rushed home from a long day at the office where you have been on the go all morning and of course, you have worked.  Because, well, that’s why they call it work and all.  Anyway.  You’re tired, but you’ve finally beat the traffic and made it home to spend some time with your children.  It starts off well.  You hear that they have had a great day.  Or rather, you assume that they did because “fine” usually means that nothing bad happened and there were no distress calls from the school.

They may have even been excited to see you (a luxury I only get a couple times a week, because being at Granny is way cooler than being with Mom.  Mostly because Mom doesn’t give sweets.  And Mom dishes out discipline with reckless abandon.  And…).  Flip, I digress.  What I’m getting at is that they are happy, healthy and wonderful.

Which makes what happens next all the more confusing.

One second your kid is all giggles and cuddles and the next they’re sitting on the floor and screaming like someone just kicked them in the face.  Except no one touched them.  There were no warning signs.  No cause.  Just a complete freak out over nothing.

This actually happens to me regularly.

No man, I don’t sit and freak the heck out, my kids do.

In fact, it happened this past Friday, and while this kid screamed for (I’m not joking) 15 full minutes – I wondered what I had done to deserve this.  Because really, no matter what the reason, listening to your kid scream for that long is draining and just frustrating.  Plus, this ain’t my first rodeo.  This tantrum thing, we’ve been doing it for years.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a time I was bitten.  Here’s another time I wanted to dissolve in the aisles of Woolies.  Here’s how holidays make it worse.  Why I used to sometimes cry myself to sleep at night.  And how we’re slowly overcoming the tantrum monster and getting the better of it.  Sometimes.

I’ve learned now not to intervene.  I might walk over to them and just mention that when they want to chat about it, they can come and find me and we can hug it out.  It’s a lot more effective than getting upset myself.  Listen, I’ve been there, done that and the result is that we all just end up miserable and the tantrum goes from being 15 minutes to an hour.  And really, ain’t nobody got time for that.


In this particular incident on Friday, after we’d hugged it out and things were calm again, I queried what was happening and why they were feeling so upset.  They didn’t even know what to tell me, because there was no actual reason.

Or so it seemed.

Last night we went to a parent teacher talk at Knox’s school.  They spoke about how hard our children have to work all day.  We think it’s so easy – playing, eating snacks and hanging out with our friends but we forget that they are little.  Working their bodies is hard, listening to the rules is tiring and we all know that sharing may be caring, but it’s not a childs first choice.  All day they’ve been holding themselves in while working those little bodies and minds.  By the time they get home, they’re exhausted.

So they explode.

They do it with us because it’s their safe space.  A space with people that they know will love them unconditionally despite their current attitude.  A space where they can work out all those pent up emotions and just regroup.

I know I feel the same way after I come home from work.  I don’t shout at my employee’s or flip my desk over in irritation at another thing going wrong in the day.  That would make me a pretty freaking awful boss.  But when I come home I know that I can let loose.  I don’t flip tables, but I do need at least 10 minutes to just regroup over a cup of coffee.  I can be myself at home and sometimes that’s a miserable ball of a person who just wants to climb onto the couch and eat Nik Naks until there’s a fine orange sheen across my entire face.

Our children need to be able to do the same.  (Except without the Nik Naks because those are mine.)

Which is why I’m going to say that if your kid is throwing a tantrum after a long day at school, a busy morning or whatever (except like, being a chop of course) then you’re a great parent.  You’re giving them that safe space that they need to be themselves and rid their minds of all those pent up emotions.

And no, it probably won’t make handling them any easier on you, but at least now you know why it’s happening!

At the very worst of it you can at least know that you are not alone.  Somewhere out there, there is another mother going through the same thing – raising their glass of wine in a toast of all the fellow Mom’s blocking their ears and rocking in the corner of their safe spaces.

19 thoughts on “Why Your Child Having A “Tantrum” Means That You’re A Great Parent

  1. Yep, I get this. My one had a meltdown at 21:00, out of nowhere about “homework sentences” and then 17 minutes later, just like that, it was over and done with and he was asleep! I just walked away 🙂

  2. I needed to hear this today. My youngest, Ethan, is only 2 years old but can throw a tantrum that will put most others to shame. I know all moms probably say that about their kid, but that’s how it feels in our home. But reading this makes me realise that they do have a safe environment to let loose and let go. Thank you!

  3. Hmmm – I’ve never thought about it like that! I must admit that if my kids started screaming like banshees, I may just scream right back at them, ain’t nobody got time. But I do find him sometimes having a breakdown or meltdown at the end of the day and I often wonder what the hell I’ve done to deserve it after I’ve had an equally long day (bad mum), but this totally makes sense 🙂 I’m with you on this one!

  4. Love this! Sometimes being a little person is just exhausting and all that emotional energy has to go somewhere. It’s not a discipline issue – its just emotional and sensory overload. I know I feel like that sometimes!

  5. Even my almost 8 year old can get to a point when the emotions are just too big to keep in any longer. A small thing becomes a big thing and we will have tears for an hour, or she may even get so overwhelmed that she is almost hysterical. I find the best thing for her is to just let her get it out. Sometimes she wants to do it on her own but other times she wants me to sit with her. I guess it’s better to let them feel and process, although instinctively we want them to stop. It’s not easy especially when it’s in public.
    School is tiring. It’s not all playing and fun. I think there is a fair amount of stress for them too, they want to fit in, be part of a group, don’t want to be teased etc. so I guess it is good they have a safe place to let it all out. Now we just need to learn how to not take it personally, and how to survive the noise.

  6. Even though I’m not a mom (one dream yet to be accomplished…) I love reading stories about parenting or articles and tips. I find it is encouraging and I love the human that you are – saying things as they are with a good dose of humour. You go, Cindy! x

  7. I’m so glad I read this! This was me yesterday. Actually, the meltdowns are every other day, but yesterday I was wondering how the heck I was getting everything so wrong. Thanks for sharing.

  8. add to that your “rule of one” with multiples and you’re guaranteed at least one tantrum every.single.day…. I must provide a “really safe space….”

  9. Yikes!! We are just hitting the tantrum phase with Mr Two Yearold.
    I try and leave him be with knowing mommy is right here when you ready to be a person again. I also have a weird sense of humor and last week in PnP he decided to be angry jellyman and have a meltdown on the floor. Me? I started dancing in a circle around him. Obviously people looked at us with “That Face”. Didn’t care. Only took a few seconds for my son to notice and then laughed his little butt off joining me in the dance. Crisis over! Well until ten minutes later when he wanted to eat the cheese I just put in the trolley and the plastic got in the way…
    Love your blog!

  10. Its such a relief knowing that you not the only parent experiencing the Tantrums and surprisingly most of my daughters tantrums happens when we get home after a long day at work and a even longer day at Crèche.

    • The afternoon/evening is the worst for us too. But honestly I often wish I was right there screaming on the floor next to her. It must be so freeing to just not give a crap and let loose! Well done for being your sweet girls safe space!

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