25 Jul CHAOS TO CALM: TANTRUM TIPS
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
Hi! My hope is that you’re enjoying this while drinking a cup of coffee (or maybe a glass of wine) and a moment to yourself. And if not, you’re like 99% of other parents out there who are multi-tasking and looking for ways to help your child to decrease your overwhelming feeling of guilt, fear, and constant rollercoaster of chaos. Yes, you love your child, as do I. But we typically don’t read blogs because we want to know how to love our child more. You already unconditionally love your child.
Continue scrolling to find ways to guide your child’s chaos to calm… or at least to a calmer state.
The emotional part of a child’s brain develops before the logical problem-solving areas of their brain. At times, they need a “way out” of a tantrum or another solution rather than the kicking, screaming, or throwing. If your child is in an all-out rage or ridiculous behavior, guide them to shift their behavior with a calm request or gesture of help. This is referred to as scaffolding, grading, or adapting an activity.
Scenario: Your child is rolling on the floor, refusing to get dressed, because they don’t want to get ready for bed. You could choose to yell, tell them to stop, or give up entirely and let them sleep in their clothes from the day. Pick your battles, right?!
If it’s been a day where you want to try a new strategy, pick up the shirt & offer your child “I will put your shirt on for you and you put on your pants”.
Grading the activity requires you to know what part of the activity they are able to do without help.
It allows for compromise, without completely giving into your child’s tantrum tactics. If it’s easier for them to put on their shirt, then they do that and you put on their pants. This scenario is for the parent that is encouraging independence yet also working on guiding out of a tantrum.
Call me if you need help knowing how to grade a specific activity for your child. I would love to help!
OFFER 2 CHOICES.
Be clear and direct. Give two choices with simple words that offer a structure of choices that will help guide their behavior.
Scenario 1: Your child walks/runs away from an activity or a meal. Offer a suggestion: “You can choose to come back to the table now, or sit by yourself for ____ minutes and then come back to the table”. One guideline for setting expectations of the time is to use the number of minutes’ equivalent to the child’s age. If they are 4 years-old, they have 4 minutes. If you have a 10-year-old engaging in the same behavior, use your parental instincts. Will they be able to regroup and independently come back to the table after 10 minutes or will you have lost them? Only you will know. If your child chooses to walk away and take the suggestion of sitting alone, time must be set, and expectations must be followed through.
Scenario 2: If your child chooses option number 3 (which was not an option), it is a must to say “that is not a choice” and repeat the 2 choices again. Within 2 offerings, if they absolutely do not choose, tell them “I will choose for you if you do not choose”. (If you know which color they prefer, give them the color they prefer). Also a must is NO negotiating.
Negotiating happens more often than you think. A child who chooses option 3 is an attempt at negotiation. A child that learns how to negotiate with their parents at age 6 will understand how to negotiate in the same manner when they are 16 and have much different requests.
Tantrums look different in every child. Whatever action they are doing it helps to verbalize aloud what you are seeing. Be careful and avoid using the word “No”.
Why? Dr. Laura Markham author or Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids found that “a UCLA study cited by Claire Lerner of the research center “Zero to Three” found that the average toddler hears the word no or its equivalent about every nine minutes”.
Think about it- the last time you told a child “no throwing!” or “no kicking!” did they stop immediately? Chances are, your child paused to look at you and check in with your reaction before deciding what to do and then continued on with the behavior you presented as “no”.
When we say “no kicking” we are reinforcing what we DON’T want. Instead, use labels to guide them to what you DO want to see: “You threw the toy and you look mad. If you are mad, you may do ____” (Fill in blank with whatever you are okay with them expressing). If your child does not respond to this at the time they are mad, offer suggestions and practice when they are in a calm alert state.
These are just some of the strategies that I use and there are so many more strategies. If you need help please reach out to me!
Over the last 10 years of working with children, I have seen a wide variety of tantrums, and I find the silver lining in moments even when I have been hit across the head with a 3-foot bolster by a 3-year-old, cursed out by a 6-year-old, and sat in the room with many a crying and screaming children for an hour.
I find the silver lining because I know on some level, all of these children have difficulty regulating their emotions and energy level. They’ve just needed someone to understand their frustration and work through it with them to teach them a new way of being.
I have found the greatest conversations are sparked by your comments and emails! If you found this helpful, share it with a friend!
I’d love to hear from you!
Does your child have unique tantrum challenges?
What have you done to guide your child’s tantrums from chaos to calm?
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