If you are like me, you would wonder how and where there could be life lessons from acting childish. Well, read on and see what I realised.
My brother was in medical school. He told us about a case presented to the class by one of his lecturers: the parents of a toddler brought the child to the hospital, worried. What was the problem? Each time the child didn’t get his way, he would hit his head on the wall, repeatedly, until he got his way.
I can almost see you cringe in worry if you are a parent or a guardian.
When he told us this story, I didn’t yet have nieces or nephews to dote on, so I couldn’t view this problem from the angle of the parents. I saw it, instead, from the perspective of a free single human who believed controlling a child is as simple as ABC (teaching a child the ABCs will show you that that is not easy either).
So, being all single, I and my siblings laughed and concluded that the family couldn’t be Africans. In Africa, most of us believe strongly that ‘the rod’ was a vital instrument if your child would grow into a reasonable adult.
My siblings and I firmly believed that an African parent would deal with such a child in a way that would ensure that he be scared of walls all his life.
I don’t know what I believe now.
The thing about watching a child throw tantrums is that aside from feeling a need to teach the child that, in life, you don’t always get what you want just because you want it, the parent or guardian worries that the child would hurt himself.
The child throwing tantrum doesn’t care about others, he just wants what he wants. Also, he is ignorant or doesn’t care about himself, he just wants what he wants.
Sound like any adult you know? Possibly you?
We would love to think that we all threw our last tantrums as children, but what if I share with you insights that show that we still throw tantrums and hence need to learn how to manage our disappointments?
If you have observed children throwing tantrums, you’d realise that there are two main reasons they act so:
- They didn’t get their way
- They just don’t feel good and don’t know how to deal with it
So, before I share with you how you might be acting like a child, do a little self-analysis and ask yourself what you do when you don’t get your way or when you don’t feel well and can’t explain why.
How you(I) act childish
I was in my first year in the university when one of my girlfriends brought to my notice one way I act when I don’t get my way. She said that I’d sulk for a while, then I’d let it go. More annoying than the realisation that I was acting childish was the fact that she could predict my next action whenever I didn’t get my way.
Three ways you throw tantrums:
You sulk when you don’t get your way: You might not get violent and hit your head on the wall, but you’d get so cold and leave everyone else feeling uncomfortable and a little guilty. If asked what is wrong, you’d say you are fine. You feel so entitled that you just want everyone to know that you feel slighted because they chose an option that you don’t agree with. That, my friend, is a tantrum technique. Life has shown us, over and again, that no one owes us anything and if your point, your view and your choice would be relevant, you have to show why, you have to prove it, and you have to put in the work. If you still lose, well, try again. Don’t sulk. Grow up.
You snap at people just because you don’t feel right: This childish act might be swiftly or slowly followed by a weak apology of how you don’t know what came over you, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that you just snapped at someone because you couldn’t figure out why you feel bad. When you don’t understand why you feel down or sad, if you can’t talk it out with someone, it’s best to take time out and figure out what the real problem is, and try to fix it. Avoid dumping your lousy mood on some unsuspecting human. Grow up.
You try to and sometimes succeed in bullying others: Your bullying might be to wear the person out so they bend to your way or it could be to make them cower and leave you feeling good about yourself. Whatever the reason, it is childish. Bullying as adults might not involve slaps, shoves and dunking into the toilet bowl, but it is just as humiliating, foolish and ugly as that done in schools, among young humans. As said earlier, you won’t always get your way, if you want to get your way, earn it, work for it and present your point. If you lose, go back and start again. Don’t resort to bullying. Also, if you want to feel superior, pick on someone your own size and get into the boxing ring. Get a professional fighter and fight with them. If you win, it would be a bragging right well earned. If you lose, you take it and calm down. Grow up.
At the base of all forms of tantrum is a sense of entitlement.
Tantrums by children can be understood: when they were born, adults waited on them, hand and foot. Each time they cried, they were either rocked to sleep, given a bottle, a nipple, or a toy. We made them believe the world was theirs for the asking.
What’s your excuse?
As we grew older, we learnt that we have to work for everything. We saw tragedies and tough times, and we were shown that nothing is guaranteed, yet we want everything to go our way just because we do.
Tantrums make your friends and family worry just as that of children make the parents worry. Stop making us worry about you when we could be living fully.