A child’s inside world

 In Behaviour, Communication, Development, Discipline, Emotional Intelligence, Mindfulness

Have you ever thought about what is behind your children’s tantrums?

I am a mom, as many of you are, and when my child is having an emotional outburst, the only thing I see is an irrational tantrum. But do you know what? If we take a moment, and do not take our kid’s reaction as a personal attack or sign of disrespect, and we intentionally work to find out what is going on inside our child’s inner world, we will realize that there is a thought that triggered an emotion, and that emotion at the same time, triggered a reaction (the tantrum).

Let’s think……have you ever been in an important meeting and suddenly someone interrupted you? Think about the hypothetical case that it was a virtual meeting at home and it was your child who had interrupted you. You perhaps opened your eyes to the size of two flying saucers, stretched out your neck like a giraffe, and with an accusing finger, led them out of the room. But they kept talking until they made sure they were heard. Can you remember or imagine that situation? Try to picture it…we all know it’s real.

All this happens automatically and without thinking, but now we are going to discuss this. Tell me, what was the first thing you thought when your child interrupted you? Perhaps the thought was: “This child is defiant, I told him that he could not enter while I was working” or “What is wrong with this child, is it so hard for them to understand that I am not available at the moment?” Now tell me, what emotion followed the interruption? Maybe it was anger? Or maybe it was embarrassment because everyone heard them yelling? How did that emotion feel in your body? Was it a knot in the stomach? Was it a muscle strain or vein popping? Or did you turn as red as a tomato and your hands started to sweat? ……And what was your first reaction? Did you mute the microphone, turn your camera off and tell your child to get out? Or did you give them a look which they knew meant they needed to go out of the room?

If you felt such a strong emotion at the interruption and reacted that way, why would your child react differently when you interrupted their game to go eat dinner?

Now let’s think about these ideas and give yourself some room to consider the following:

  • Both us ourselves and our children have an inside world, made up of our thoughts, our emotions and our reactions. This inside world, for adults and children, can be triggered by our outside world.
  • In some cases your actions are your child’s outside world that triggers that emotional outburst in them.
  • The emotional outburst reflected as a tantrum, is the result of you not being able to understand what is happening within your child´s inner world.


I challenge you to consider all of this next time you or your child have an emotional outburst, and take a moment before reacting.

Written by: Coach Alejandra Brañez – Fundacion Heroe, La Paz, Bolivia

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