Tuesday, 3 July 2018

What Does Montessori Say About Why Toddlers Tantrum?

For a long time, Jerome has struggled with big emotions that would end up in these huge tantrums. 

He would scream in our face. Hit us. Lash out at younger siblings.

And I will be honest, we became more focused on stopping the behavior and training Jerome to be well-behaved than in trying to understand him.

We tried time-outs. We tried scolding. We gave punitive punishments, like taking away a special toy. We sometimes resorted to pinching his ear or swatting his bum.

Knowing what I do now, this breaks my heart.



Do We Hold Children To An Unreasonable Standard?

I have bad days. I have moments of low blood sugar, low energy, stress. Sometimes I am in a rush, or just in a bad mood for no apparent reason. And sometimes I act in a way I am not proud of later.

But if I, who should be much more mature and capable of dealing with my emotions than my toddler, give myself allowances, how can I not do the same for my child?

Especially since the expression of those big emotions, the screaming, the need to move his body, the need to throw, is healthy and normal.

And, in fact, in these moments when our children show us their big emotions, they provide us with an opportunity to make an important choice.

Do we show them that we love them, no matter what they may throw at us? Do we show them that we are in control of ourselves, and we are capable of guiding them safetly, as well? Do we show them that we desire to understand, communicate, and defend them?

Or do we pit ourselves against them? Show them that they cannot trust us with their needs, emotions, fears, and love? Do we erode their confidence in our love, and their own worth?



An Effort of the Soul to Question or Defend
Maria Montessori writes about how a tantrum is an "expression of an inner disturbance or an unsatisfied need that has created a degree of tension. It represents an effort of the soul to ask a question or defend itself."

Those tantrums, those uncomfortable outbursts, are my toddler's efforts to express or defend himself in a totally normal, if immature, way.

A toddler is never acting out just to be difficult, which is why I do not believe in the terrible twos, and we do them a great disservice if we focus more on stopping the uncomfortable behavior than in listening.

It has completely changed my relationship with Jerome to:

  • React to his big emotions with understanding and confidence. 
  • View his need to tantrum as a healthy way for him to learn to process and develop appropriate ways to express big emotions. 
  • Use these moments as an opportunity to assure my child that I am in control.


Read more about respectful parenting and Montessori with this post on not leaving our toddlers hanging with no | positive parenting even with a naturally short temper | and why I don't believe in the terrible twos



Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. I would also love to hear any suggestions for posts you would like me to write about. And if you are interested in following along in our daily adventures, follow us on Instagram where I post daily.

God bless,
Olivia Fischer





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