(Image adapted from: larkin.family – cc)
What do you do when your child throws a tantrum?
The following are three different approaches and what they teach your child:
1) Not doing anything (It’s okay to throw tantrums)
Unfortunately this approach is becoming all too common. And parents have a myriad of reasons why they take this approach:
“I’m too tired.”
“He’s just a kid.”
“He doesn’t understand.”
“He’ll learn eventually.”
Doing nothing while your child throws tantrums is indirectly teaching your child that it’s okay to throw tantrums.
The problem is that it’s not okay to throw tantrums. A tantrum is selfish, manipulative, defiant, and rebellious – all of which are sin.
Regardless of what a child understands at a particular age, you can be sure that what they do understand is that if a parent allows a certain behavior to go unchecked, then it’s okay in their minds, and children are constantly pushing the boundaries to see what they can get away with.
Not doing anything when a child throws a tantrum usually lends itself to parental burnout, because it’s extremely draining, embarrassing, and frustrating to helplessly watch your child throw a tantrum.
I think this approach is the saddest when parents think it’s cute and/or funny. Regardless of whether you think it’s cute or funny for your child to throw a tantrum, it’s certainly not cute or funny when that child is still throwing tantrums when he’s an adult. Unfortunately the reason that most adults throw tantrums is that their parents taught them that selfish, manipulative, defiant behavior was okay when they didn’t do anything about the tantrums they threw when they were children.
2) Removing the inconvenience (It’s okay to throw tantrums under certain circumstances)
This approach also teaches a child that it’s okay to throw tantrums. The difference with this approach is that it only teaches your child that’s it’s okay to throw tantrums when it’s inconvenient for the parent or those around them. This indirectly teaches a child that the only issue is between the child and other people, when in fact the primary issue is between the child and God.
This approach sounds something like this:
“Go in your room and shut the door if you’re going to throw a tantrum. I don’t want to hear it.”
“As long as I don’t have to listen to it, I’m fine.”
“He’s only hurting himself.”
This is a godless, idolatrous approach that teaches children that they can do whatever they want, as long as it’s not harming others. This is the same logic behind the justification of homosexual acts, drunkenness, fornication, and many other sins. Sin is wrong because God says it is, regardless of it’s apparent effect on other people.
Parents need to be diligent to train their children to believe that sins are an offense against God regardless of whether they harm or offend people.
3) Discipline and instruction (It’s NEVER okay to throw tantrums)
Tantrums should be met with consistent, loving, instruction and discipline, so that a child knows the truth that it’s NEVER okay to throw tantrums.
The sooner a child learns this, the better.
Often the root of rebellion is made apparent when a child is very young. A great example is when a baby acts defiant while their parent is trying to change their diaper. When a parent lovingly disciplines their child as soon as the child starts throwing tantrums, the child is much more likely to be self controlled when they are older, because they’ve been trained to obey.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Prov 22:6)