Home Psychology Dr. Heather Wittenberg Says: Kids Throw Tantrums Only Around Their Mothers

Dr. Heather Wittenberg Says: Kids Throw Tantrums Only Around Their Mothers


My friend who is a mother to a 2-year-old boy recently told me that sometimes she can’t put up with his tantrums that are getting more and more intense and numerous (one day, she counted 6). Therefore, she told me that she was extremely worried when her baby boy started going to pre-kindergarten.

She said that she expected to get a call from the teacher the first day because, in her words, “he stomps when he is angry, cries at the drop of a hat, kicks, and collapses while screaming loudly.”

However, later that day her phone did a “ping” and she saw a text message from the teacher with a picture of her boy who was smiling. The text after the picture read “he is such a delight and so well-behaved!” She became astonished because she didn’t know that side of her own son.

It appears as if her son saves all those tantrums for her only.

Dr. Heather Wittenberg who is a child psychologist, explains this occurrence saying that kids really do save their best and worst for their parents. Meaning, they are their true selves when they are around their parents.

According to her, children need a vast amount of energy to follow the rules and “be good kids” during the day. Therefore, when they come home, they relax and let it all out. But the great news is that their goofiness, affection, admiration, and their deepest love are reserved only for their parents.

Moreover, Dr. Wittenberg advises that it is essential for parents to set boundaries and not award their children’s tantrums and freak-outs. She advises parents that if their kids are behaving in a destructive way, then they should step in and stop their meltdowns.

If their kid is lying on the floor, crying out loud, they should scoop them up and then send them to their room. She encourages the use of time-ups and talking to them about their behavior when they calm down.

Finally, it is definitely a relief knowing that your ‘problematic’ kid saves the best AND the worst just for you! That means that you’ve created such a safe and loving space for them that they feel like themselves. Even if that means they get to throw a tantrum or six.

Mary Wright