If you spend any kind of time on the internet, you no doubt have seen parents sharing videos of their kids having emotional breakdowns.
Just jump on YouTube and search “kid tantrum.” You’ll see thousands of sad, angry and frustrated kids. The same goes for your Facebook feed, where you can find all sorts of meltdowns shared for the world to see.
Even worse, sometimes the parents caused the kids’ breakdowns so that they could catch them on film.
Take Jimmy Kimmel’s “I Told my Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy” challenge, where the late-night host encourages viewers to tell their kids they ate all their Halloween candy and film what ensues. Sure, we’ve all seen (and maybe even laughed) at the light-hearted side of these pranks. While Kimmel’s own daughter took the news rather well in the video he shared, many of the kids are overcome with rage and sadness.
I’ll be the first to say: I don’t get it.
The tantrums I get. The filming-then-sharing it part? Not so much.
I have kids. My kids have tantrums. And I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time being an eyewitness to my own kids’ meltdowns. So how and why is filming them a thing? I don’t want to relive any tantrum, let alone share my kids with the world at their most vulnerable.
In fact, a good portion of my day is spent trying to avoid meltdowns altogether. My first thought when one does start, is how can I make this better? Not oooh!! Let me grab my phone, my followers are going to love this!
Really. Does this seem a little sick to anyone else?
The Case Of The DaddyOFive Couple
One couple, Michael and Heather Martin, took their pranking too far and lost custody of two of their children in the process. The parents made famous by their hard-to-watch YouTube channel DaddyOFive provoked outrage with their antics. That viral outcry led to eventual child neglect charges and a recent sentence of five years of probation for each. They also remain unable to see the two children who were taken from their custody without court approval.
A parent’s job is to protect their children. Make them feel safe, valued and loved. And it needs to be remembered at the heart of each emotional outburst (no matter how ugly, loud and irrational) is a kid who is too tired, too hungry, too in need of attention or too overcome by big emotions.
Above all else, kids in the throes of a tantrum are vulnerable. They have a deep yearning for love and understanding and boundaries. What they don’t need is mom or dad giggling on the other side of a smartphone. So parents, can we please put the phone down? Instead grab your child, hold on tight and help her through these big emotions. And, for Pete’s sake, show a little empathy. That 15 minutes of fame could cause your child some real embarrassment and, worse, pain.
Our handheld devices already put such a barrier between us and our children—even in good moments. I, too, often find myself trying to capture it all. Hold that smile! I have to document how happy we are at the pumpkin patch—instead of focusing on actually being happy there.
Why Are We Showcasing Kids In Their Toughest Moments?
Not to mention, parents have breakdowns, too.
Like when I’m trying to get my kids in the car and they can’t find their shoes for the fourth day in a row, and I lose it and end up running around around the house like a crazy person shouting “where are the SHOES???”
I don’t want this less-than-desirable behavior plastered all over social media for the whole world to see, and I can make sure my meltdowns stay private unless I choose to share them—because I’m a grownup. But these kids caught breaking down on film aren’t given that choice.
Look, parenting is tough. There is a burning need to feel like what you are experiencing as a mom or dad is legit. No one wants to feel like their kid is the only kid who has breakdowns. And maybe a few comments on your video can help you feel less alone. I get it, we all need to commiserate. But instead of hitting record, let’s just talk about it. Confide in a friend, share the story, but please, please don’t share the video.