Toddler's iPad tantrum is troubling, not cute

Tantrum over technology... Ashlynn Brooks in the now infamous clip.
Tantrum over technology... Ashlynn Brooks in the now infamous clip. 

As the parent of a typical two-year-old, it takes a fairly spectacular tantrum to shock me.

When I witness a full-blown kicking and screaming display at my local shopping centre, I give the child's frazzled parents an understanding look, because I am only too aware that tomorrow it could be my stubborn son who throws himself on the supermarket floor and refuses to get up.

But there is something different about this bedtime tantrum of little Ashlynn Brooks, which her father videoed and uploaded online because he thought it was "cute". Perhaps it is because the howling two-year-old is demanding to be allowed to take her iPad to bed, or maybe it is because, more shockingly, her parents give in to her cries and hand her the device.

"I want my iPad!" the toddler screams and cries until her father gives in and hands it back to her. The little girl is seen clutching the tablet in her bed and trying to put it under the blanket.

"Are you happy now?" her father asks. Ashlynn replies, "Yeah".

Sure, Ashlynn might be happy to have gotten her own way, but what has she learnt? That if she cries and screams long and loud enough her parents will give in to her every desire? Wouldn't it be better to teach her there are rules and boundaries - and that her bedtime is for cuddling teddy bears, not iPads?

More than 357,000 people have viewed the video of Ashlynn, titled "I want my iPad!!", since her father Daniel Brooks posted it on a number of websites, including YouTube, recently.

The majority of viewers were immediate in their criticism of the parenting shown by Mr Brooks and Ashlynn's mother.

"That's not cute at all! All she is is spoiled rotten and by the time she grows up, she won't be able to function without technology at all. Truly sad to see," wrote one commenter.

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"Looks like Ashlynn needs parents that know how to say NO!" said another. 

Mr Brooks defended himself, saying despite his daughter's cries the little girl is not allowed to use her iPad all the time.

"We only let her play [with the iPad] for a limited time with certain educational games that help with dexterity and the alphabet," he stated."The only problem is she doesn't want to put it down."

Most people who viewed Ashlynn's behaviour in the video have never met the family and don't know how the Brooks parent their daughter on a day to day basis.

But their outrage is symbolic of a growing frustration with the reluctance of some parents to deny their child's every wish.

Saying no to a toddler can be tough, especially when an embarrassing public tantrum ensues. But there are some circumstances when a parent needs to set boundaries and stick to them.

For instance, one friend tells how she recently saw a mother at a restaurant pour a small amount of champagne into her son's cup because the two-year-old was making a fuss and wanted some. It's fair to say the parental towel has been well and truly thrown in when you would rather share your Moet with a toddler than deal with the fallout from denying your child's every wish.

Child psychologist Fiona Martin said it was important for parents to set rules and boundaries, but also to acknowledge their child's feelings.

"You can start by saying something like 'I understand you are feeling angry or sad','' Dr Martin, from Sydney Child Psychology Centre, explains. "That will often calm a child down a notch to a point where you can reason or negotiate with them and explain why certain behaviour is not acceptable."

Parents who fail to set boundaries can not expect their children to control their own behaviour as they grow up, according to Dr Martin.

"Children who have laissez-faire parents will just do whatever they want. They will not have any respect for their parents,'' she says.

Equally parents who just set boundaries and expect their children to conform, without explaining why the rules are important, will struggle to form a strong emotional bond with their child.

"Parents need to be the bigger, stronger, wiser and kinder people,'' Dr Martin says.

So while saying no to the apple of your eye might be easier said than done, it will probably be good for your child in the long run.

It will be more beneficial than picking up the camera and creating a video of their tantrums for the whole world to watch and ridicule, that's for sure.  

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