L.L.O.V.E.E. Your Child Through Their Tantrum
By Vibha Arora @iParent Plus
When you join the Parenting Club there are certain “givens” that come with your membership. For example, you will be given countless sleepless nights, you will be given a capacity to love you didn’t even know you had, you will be given a constant stream of spills and messes, you will be given the opportunity to be a hero, and you will be given a fair share of absolute meltdowns and full blown temper tantrums (I’m talking about from your kids’ tantrums here, not your own…which there will be plenty of as well but that’s a whole different Oprah!)
How can you not only survive your child’s temper tantrums but also actually even thrive through them? With LLOVEE of course! No two children are created the same and neither are their temper tantrums. However, these steps to sanity are universal.
- Look- Look? Yes, look at your child when they start the tantrum, while they are having it and as they finish up. Many say that you should ignore your child’s meltdown. The thing is – ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. Wouldn’t it be cool if it did? I for one, would then be completely debt free and 30 pounds lighter! But the truth is when you ignore something like a temper tantrum; it actually grows it louder, bigger and stronger. A tantrum wants to be noticed. It needs to be seen. So although it may be easier to look the other way…resist. Instead look at your child with compassion instead of disdain. This whole being a kid thing isn’t always easy!
- Learn- As you observe your child from one melt down to the next you may start to see a pattern emerge. Are there certain factors that add to the perfect tantrum storm for your child? Do they happen at around the same time of day? Perhaps at the same place? For example, I learned early on with my favorite son that he gets incredibly hangry if he hasn’t had anything to eat in a few hours. His temper tantrums also usually used to occur closer to bedtime (when he was tired). Once you learn what makes your kids’ temper tick, you may be able to put things in place that can help avoid the tantrum in the first place. Snacks can have magical powers!
- Own up- Meltdowns don’t happen in a vacuum. Chances are you play a part in the behavior. I’m not saying your child isn’t responsible for their behavior- they are…absolutely. Part of our job as parents by the way, is to teach children how to manage their behavior. However, it’s important that we own our part. Think about what we are expecting. Calm, cool, collected (and polite) behavior from our kids…almost always. When on any given Saturday, we (the adult) have a To Do list that seems endless. Grocery shopping, errand running, soccer games for the older kids, lunch with out of town guests, bank visits with long teller lines, the dry cleaners…and on and on. Whew! I’m exhausted and overwhelmed simply by thinking about the list and I’m a grown adult (or so I’m told). Can you imagine what all that running around town must be like for a kiddo? Can we say “sensory overload”?! It’s too much…you’re setting the stage for a meltdown. I’m not saying these things don’t all need to get done, they do. Unless of course you have a magical fairy that will do it all for you, in which case please share! But could you arrange it and plan it in a way that might be a little less overwhelming for your child? You can. Really. You can.
- Validate- Perhaps this scene is familiar: you had a particularly difficult day at work, anything that could go wrong did and then when you came home there was even more work to do and demands from the kids, the spouse and even the dog who once again has mistaken your artificial plant in the living room for a fire hydrant. What if at the end of this day you pour yourself a glass of red and vent to your significant other about your, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and they dismiss you by saying something like “Get over it. Stop acting like a baby. Deal with it. It’s not that big of a deal.” I’m guessing your response wouldn’t be very pretty. Human beings need to be seen, heard and understood. Just a friendly reminder that your child is a human being too, albeit a shorter one. Take the time to validate their big feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration or whatever else they are feeling at the moment. Name it, because they might not even know it. Hold the safe space for them to feel their feelings.
- Empathize- Can you put yourself in their cute little shoes for a minute? They are new to this whole living life thing. When they spend 5 minutes building that amazing block tower only to have it knocked down by their meanie bo beanie older sister, it is a big deal to them. It may be enough to push your sweet child over the edge and directly into the tantrum zone. It’s happened to you too. Think about the choice words you hurled at the driver that cut you off on the way home yesterday. Thank goodness the kiddos weren’t in the car to witness your full on meltdown! Compassion, which is empathy in action, goes a long way and is a valuable parenting tool. Find compassion and use it…often.
- Encourage- Allow your child to express hurt and upset feelings and then encourage her by reminding her to use her coping tools (that you’ve already taught). Let her know it’s ok. Empower her with the knowledge that she can handle her feelings. Invite her to push pause on her Feelings Remote Control and just breathe for a moment. Model this for her. Try it right now. It’s as easy as…well, breathing. Inhale. Exhale.
Vibha has a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a Certified Positive Discipline Educator and Parent Coach. She’s hoping to shift parenting perspectives and help parents focus on effective, connected, conscious, long term parenting techniques. She is a busy Single Mom to a teenage son who is 16 years old and a 19-year-old kidult daughter. Vibha is the proud founder and owner of iParent Plus. Read more on her blog at www.iparentplus.com
Connect with her Via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org