Positive Parenting: The science behind kids' temper tantrums
Photo: Video by IdahoOnYourSide.com
I think every parent has that moment when they get embarassed by their kid's temper tantrums. They wonder what they're doing right and what they're doing wrong. I'm a big believer in finding out the reason behind a behavior or a problem, because it ususally helps figure out a solution. So here we go -- it's about to get scientific!
Did you know that the front part of the human brain -- the pre-frontal cortex -- is the area that regulates emotions and social behavior? That's also the last part of the brain to develop, and only starts to mature at age four. Hence the terrible twos (and threes).
An article by a professor of psychology says kids that age think *magically, not logically. Dr. Gina Mireault says events that seem ordinary to us may seem confusing or even scary to kids (that may explain why my daughter freaks out and runs for cover every time the trash truck rolls by).
Doctors say that overwhelming feeling causes our bodies to release cortisol, known as the "fight or flight" horomone or "tantrum juice." It causes kids to breathe faster, think unclearly -- basically have an anxiety attack. The good news about these tantrums, though, is as soon as the kids throw a fit, they usually snap out of it and move on. Most experts say as long as the child is safe just try to ignore the tantrum. Otherwise, you may reinforce that negative behavior.
My daughter's own pediatrician said it's actually good to release that anxiety and stress, whether you're a kid freaked out by the vaccum or a parent needing to scream into a pillow. She says once you get that energy out you can both think more clearly and then talk about what was so scary or frustrating when you've both calmed down. Hopefully that will help to have a better understanding of your child's behavior the next time a tantrum strikes.