Have you ever had to deal with your child upset and throwing a tantrum? Do they throw themselves at the floor? Do they refuse to listen and co-operate. Even in the best of cases, dealing with temper tantrums is challenging. However, there are many techniques to help you better manage your child’s tantrums and be that calm, loving, parent you want to be.
Tantrums, upset and anger in children are usually forms of frustration. Frustration that something is unjust; frustration that we don’t understand or they can’t communicate effectively their needs/wants; frustration about their and our limitations. Understanding the source of frustration is the first step towards better managing their emotional outbursts, and below from our childcare educators are some tips and techniques to help.
Reverse mirror to calm the farm
First, try to never mirror back at children their poor behaviour. Your mirror should always work in reverse: the louder they are, the softer you get; the more frustrated they become, the calmer you got to be.
“I love you” said in a calm manner can work wonders. It is so important to remind children that even when they are angry, no matter what they do or say to us, we still love them. When explained, children can differentiate the love we have for them from our dislike for the specific poor behaviour.
Validate their emotions so they know they are heard
“I see that you are upset”
Validate their emotions. It is okay to be angry or upset. Let them know that they are effectively communicating to you their anger. Letting a child know that you can physically read their anger can help them to become aware of how their body is responding to being angry. This gives you a moment to distract from, and somewhat earth the emotional outburst before stepping in to solve the problem immediately.
Offer them help and support to solve their frustration
“Would you like my help? I would love to help you.”
Giving the child the power of choice in this situation can be the turn around moment. Even if the child chooses not to take up your offer, let them know that the option will still exist when they are ready to accept.
“I wonder if it would help…to have a hug? / …to have something to eat? / …to have a nap?”
Satisfying their physical needs or affection can also be of great support. You might be pleasantly surprised at how effective asking children to listen to their own bodies can be. Do not offer these randomly but choose one that specifically addresses the underlying reasons for your children’s anger or frustration.
Give them time to decide the next step forward
‘Time outs’ can be very effective tools, when you let your child decide on the length of their own personal ’time out’. This type of self-initiated, reflective and calming ‘time out’ is completely different to the adult-initiated, punishment-style of ‘time out’. Let your child learn to come to you when they have self-soothed, a lesson in emotional self-regulation.
“I have decided I will…wait over here until you are ready to talk / …sit here quietly until you are finished / …move closer to you and hope for a big hug”.
Letting your children calmly know what is going to happen next can also allow them some time and space to learn how to self-soothe and alerts them to your reaction – being calm and collected – when they may be pushing your buttons for a negative attention type of response.
Practice makes perfect
“Should we start over?”
“Let’s go back inside, and then leave the house remembering our backpack this time!”
“Let’s go back to the top of the stairs, and try walking down instead of running.”
Taking the time to calmly practice a situation that has caused frustration is the best way we can help to prevent a repeat.
Dealing with temper tantrums is not easy, being a parent can be exhausting. Nevertheless, striving to always address the frustration and teach emotional self-regulation will help you manage your child more effectively in the long run and might provide you calm today!