You tell your toddler not to do something and what does he do? He yells, screams, maybe even throws a tantrum on the floor if you’re lucky and then there’s the pouty face. At that moment your heart strings start pulling to get you to back down from the thing you just told him not to do. Just look at that face, you can hardly help it!
News flash: those are actually NOT your heart strings. That feeling you get is a feeling of guilt and maybe even some shame. The guilt is coming from worrying about whether or not you were too harsh or maybe your delivery too forceful. This leads you to start worrying that your toddler now doesn’t love you. Then on top of that, your worries start down the path of, “Oh no, now my child thinks I don’t love him!” So of course to avoid all of those horrible things, you back down and decide not to enforce the rule you just set.
In all actuality, your child throwing a tantrum is nothing personal against you as the parent at all. Even if your delivery while setting the limit was not the greatest, your child still loves you and knows that you love him. Your toddler throws a tantrum because that is what toddlers do. It’s their age and stage of life. It doesn’t mean you are a bad parent or have bad parenting skills. It doesn’t mean you don’t love your child or that your child doesn’t love you! Fhew, sigh of relief.
Now that you know you can dismiss those feelings of guilt and shame you can listen to what your heartstrings are actually saying to your child, which are… “because I love you I need to set and enforce boundaries, rules, and limits.” You love that child, so you set those rules. It’s as simple as that. Once you take away all the unnecessary pressure from fearing you’re an unlovable horrible parent, you will find that your delivery of rules and limits can more easily be improved because you aren’t afraid of your child’s tantrum and pouty face anymore.
So what does the classic tantrum and pouty face REALLY mean? That you love your child enough to set limits and that he or she is just being a toddler and doing what toddlers do best!
I changed the words to the popular song, “My Way” by Calvin Harris to demonstrate my point and to give you a little encouragement through humor. I also have high hopes that you will get it stuck in your head so that next time your toddler or your older children yell, “MY WAY,” in whatever form that comes (yelling, screaming, pouting) you can have these catchy words ingrained in your brain to give you strength and support to do what needs to be done in saying, “No way, no way, no WA-AY!”