When little people have none or limited vocabulary, they need a way to communicate their emotions. It's almost never random, and there are always signs leading up to it.
Each individual child is different. Some can be caused out of frustration, tiredness or a negative reaction from foods as I've previously mentioned in Toddlers And Big Emotions. Here I take a deeper look into our responses:
Let's set a scenario. Your friend comes over and is super tired as she was up all night unable to sleep. She is so exhausted, that she begins to cry and when you ask her what's wrong, she just can not articulate what is upsetting her so much.
What do you do? That's your friend and she's upset, so you offer to give her a hug, make her a cup of tea, or you would console her in any way you could.
Or, say you are in the supermarket. You bump into someone you know, and she's going through a rough time. She's looking at items that she can't have due to new food intolerance's and it's upsetting her a great deal. She sits down and begins to sob. You would immediately begin to console her because that's your dear friend and she needs comfort.
Final scenario: imagine you are sitting on a train, with your cousin sitting across from you in a suit with a briefcase as she's just finished work. Perhaps you are commuting together. You know she has been under a lot of stress lately at work and home. She checks her phone and lets out a noise in anger. She's so fustrated that she begins to bang her head against the wall of the train. The stress and emotions are all too much for her, so shes breaking down. Wouldn't you move to sit next to her and console her? Rub her back, perhaps? Say you're here when she's ready to talk?
So answer me this: When a little person who's only been in this world one, two or three years – who is sometimes incapable of articulating their feelings and therefore left with only physical reactions and tears – why do we ignore them?
When a little person conveys how they feel to the one or two people in their whole world who are meant to do their best to understand and meet their needs, why do we ignore them? Or walk away from them in the supermarket?
Why do we use this as a lesson to teach them that they are not the "boss of us"? That crying won't get them what they want. That we won't be there to comfort them when they need it the most.
When the basis for their lifetime emotional maturity is being created and they are desperately crying out for help, why do we stand there in the middle of an over stimulating-shopping centre and just stare at them?
Instead, I believe that children need connection and understanding.
Editor Note: This is one writer's opinion. For another view on how to deal with tantrums, read Tantrum Time With Nan