Let’s delve into some science
“You’ve got to show him who’s boss!”
“You can’t let her walk all over you!”
“She just wants her own way. Don’t give in!”
All of these are typical phrases for the parents of a toddler to hear, and all too often. But with rapid brain development and more learning than at any other point in life happening within a child’s first 5 years, are these simple statements giving the full picture on what a toddler’s tantrum is really communicating?
Let’s delve into some science and take a look at 3 common myths about toddler tantrums that experts have debunked.
MYTH 1: My toddler is manipulating me
Your toddler is physically incapable of manipulating you, since they do not have the skillset required to do so. In order for one person to manipulate another, they need for their brain to have developed a particular and sophisticated set of cognitive skills. Parenting expert, Sarah Ockwell-Smith, states that scientists accept the skills required, including hypothetical, critical and rational thinking, are grown within the area of the brain which is the very last to develop, with the final changes take place in the early twenties!
MYTH 2: My toddler is in control of their emotions
Believe it or not, your toddler is not flailing and screaming on the floor after you said no to buying them a kid’s magazine because they want to punish you. Neuroscientist, Dr. Dean Burnett explains that a toddler’s brain has not yet learnt to tell the difference between something truly life-threatening and something harmless, so their ‘fight-or-flight’ response gets set off over things which may appear trivial to an adult. But to an overwhelmed toddler pumped on adrenaline it can feel upsetting, confusing and even frightening.
MYTH 3: My toddler is crying for no reason
This myth seems to go hand-in-hand with the great (and controversial) nighttime debate: is it ok to leave your child to cry at night when they appear to have no reason to? Gentle sleep expert, Jennie Harrison, teaches that there is always a reason why a toddler is crying, ranging from emotions to development leaps and even gut issues, and always a gentle way to help them through it.
Children have a huge amount going on for them in the toddler years, laying down neural pathways in the brain which enable them to learn about and navigate their worlds.
Which myth has been debunked for you today?