Humans by nature are emotional creatures. Most of us experience a wide range of different feelings on any given day… frustration over lost car keys, joy at watching our little ballerina do her first recital, excitement about leaving for vacation.
Children are no different, except that while our emotion shifts might be like a drive over hills and valleys, children experience emotion more like a turbo-charged roller coaster.
One of the main ways for your child to show emotions like frustration, sadness and anger is to cry, and as we all know, they do this a lot. Watching your child cry hysterically about something you’re not letting him do or have is upsetting, or course, but as parents we get used to it pretty quickly and learn not to let it tug on our heartstrings so much that we give in.
But what if your child cries so hard during a tantrum that she throws up?
This can be gut-wrenching to watch, but the answer is to be firm and resolved. Let’s say your three-year-old gets so upset about going to bed that she goes into hysterics and cries until she throws up on her bed. It would be natural to be horrified by the severity of her reaction to having to put her pyjamas on…you might start to think, “Oh no, she must be really afraid, or something from her day is upsetting her. Maybe I’ll just let her watch one more show or stay up with me until I go to bed.”
However, although it might be hard to believe, throwing up from crying is relatively common in young children. If you’re not careful, it could turn into a ploy for attention and become part of your toddler’s repertoire of tactics for getting what she wants.
Whatever your rules or expectations were for your child’s behavior, stick with them. You might feel like backing off and letting your child skip pre-school this one time, or stay an extra half-hour at the playdate etc., but if you don’t stick to the expectation you were setting, your child learns that if she gets upset enough, she will always get what she wants.
Although you might feel like she will continue doing this forever, creating chaos and piles of laundry, the truth is that when she sees that it doesn’t change what she’s allowed or not allowed to do, she will stop. If the problem occurs at bedtime, just matter-of-factly clean up the mess, change her pj’s and stick with the routine. She should stop within a few nights once she gets the message.
Stay calm, and try to be loving and patient. Remember that this behavior will change soon enough and she’ll find something new and exciting to try! ☺
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