What I have learnt from a 2 year old.....Tantrums 2.0

January 5, 2013

 My son has just turned 2. I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase the ‘terrible two's’ – a fairly accurate assessment of that phase in a child’s life when tantrums peak.

 

Children don't discriminate as to where they will have their tantrum, so they often happen in prevalent public places like supermarkets, airplanes, narrow pavements and so forth. But why does this happen? Well the basic reason is they are finding (or having imposed) parameters in their life. Or to put it another way, they are discovering where 'living in the moment' meets 'the game of life'….. constantly bumping into things, concepts and people that get in their way (from a slightly more parental view, it is when that they have maximum mobility but minimum 'sense'!) But looking at why tantrums happen is not the only interesting part for me - not any more (see past blog on Tantrums v1).

 

What I find interesting is how quickly they can come and go. I remember one time when my wife was picking up my 3 yr old daughter from nursery and she had a massive tantrum (my daughter not my wife) about something that appeared very minor (probably that she couldn't splash in the puddles in her nice shoes). But about 10 minutes later after she arrived home, my wife thought she should ask our daughter what it was all about (as maybe she needed to talk about it to get 'closure') but her 3 year old brain had completely forgotten. She genuinely did not know what my wife was talking about and didn’t seem to understand the relevance of the question…...she was almost saying ‘’why are you asking me about when I was upset?” To her, it really didn't matter - what was wrong with being upset? It was in the past, and this is now. Being upset doesn't seem to bother kids, except when they are in that moment. And even then they don't quite see what is wrong with being upset. That was then, this is now. Brilliant. So my question is, what stops us doing that as adults? Some of you might think the subject and content of her tantrum weren't really important, so that’s why it didn’t matter. And that it’s okay to get worried and anxious about proper stuff, like money, jobs, relationships etc. But firstly, it certainly looked important to Abbey in that 5 minutes when she was screaming the place down. She just got over it quickly, and didn’t decide to beat herself up for being in low state of mind. Nothing had changed in the outside world to allow her to get over it. She just let it go - the system reset, she got perspective and moved on. You may think it’s easier for kids, as they have nothing to worry about - they are looked after, parents make sure they have important stuff in life like security, food, a roof, well-being etc. But what would it be like for us to realise that external things aren't important as we think they are, and there is actually an always-on source wellbeing and security for us as well.......?

 

Well there is an eternal resource of innate wellbeing and wisdom, we just don't see it all the time. And we get in the way of it quite often by trying to doing something ourselves that is much better left to the 'system' (hence the amazing resilience of kids). Left alone, our minds have a tremendous ability to right themselves. When that sense of well-being does come along, we make the mistake of thinking it has come from the outside world – something that happened in our lives to make us feel happy. We misunderstand its source and so continue to look outside of ourselves for it.

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