Aged 5, my son has started having the odd tantrum. It’s quite something! I can’t help but wonder if he had, had them when he was two, would he be over them by now? But I think I would prefer it this way because I can reason with him easier than when he was two.
When I see a child having a tantrum I see a child who has encountered a situation or circumstance, or emotion that they simply cannot process. It’s almost like their brains go into a state of panic whilst trying to shut down at the same time. Although it can be humorous at times, I think the worst thing you could do is laugh at your child having a tantrum. It shows a complete lack of understanding and will only incense them further. I’ve been there! When my three-year old daughter squats down in despair and wails over the most trivial thing whilst trying to talk through the sobs, I have actually laughed because there is something momentarily adorable there… But the moment passes quickly and if she knows you won’t take this calamity seriously… You will be taking more than double the amount of time to work through it to get your happy smiling angel back, trust me.
During a time of crisis such as I have found myself with my son lately I have found that the following steps work well, for both children.
1. Take a deep breath, this will be trying and you need to stay calm to get them to a calm state.
2. Kneel to your child’s level, put your hands on them assuringly and say their name gently whilst looking them in the eye tryingir.
3. Once you have their attention, tell them to take a deep breath. Try and get three deep breaths but if only one, that’ll do. Say, “that’s better.” Affirming that they feel better goes along way to actually getting them there.
4. Ask them to tell you why they are upset and genuinely listen. If they start to crack up again then ask them to take another deep breath.
5. When they have finished, think about what they have said and solve the problem for them. Seriously, just help them out with the answer but in language they can understand.
6. and most N.B.! When they have calmed down and only then, give them cuddle.
Crisis: Mummy, I just don’t know what to do because there is always this spit in my mouth. I keep swallowing it and it just keeps coming back and I really hate it cause I get so sick of swallowing it all the time. (This really was the actual cause of a mild tantrum for Jack).
Solution: sweetheart, spit is there for a reason. If we didn’t have spit we wouldn’t be able to taste or smell. We would also be thirsty all the time and have to drink water all day long. I’m sorry you don’t like it my darling but I’m afraid that every human and animal on this earth has spit in their mouths and we have to swallow it. It’s like yawning when we are tired or going to the loo when we need a pee…we just have to do these things to survive.
Or the classic:
Crisis: mummy, my balloon popped and I don’t have another one and I loved that one and now it’s gone forever!
Solution: Aah my baby, I am sorry for your balloon popping. It’s sad that it popped, yes. But jack, you know that, that is what balloons have to do eventually. They are lots of fun when we have them but in the end, all balloons come to a popping end.
Now, I am by no means saying that after your honest and candid explanation that everything will return to peace and your life will be blissful for ever more… No. Sometimes, your little pep talk can seem to make matters worse but remember this, you have given them a reason to recover. You have acknowledged their emotions, listened to their reason for it and offered your condolences. From herein, it’s up to them to overcome it. Sometimes they need a few more minutes of misery before returning to a normal state and getting a hug. Sometimes, I find that the child actually needs to be removed from the situation entirely and be on their own for a bit to process everything. I sometimes tell jack to go to his room and be by himself for a bit until he feels better and it always works. Just remember, this your child. It is your job to help them through difficult situations and circumstances and reward them when they overcome them, reprimand them for not knowing how to deal with them doesn’t teach them anything.
What I have learned from this.
The more you attempt to reason with your kids, the more often they will respond, listen and learn. Never give up!