What do I do when my child tantrums?

Tantrums, it’s something you might be all too familiar with if you have a toddler.

The thing is, it’s so developmentally appropriate for toddlers to have tantrums because the part of their brains in charge of regulation is still MASSIVELY under developed. (Research shows that that part of the brain doesn’t fully develop until our mid-twenties!)

Add that with the fact that they’re still learning to express what they’re feeling with words, kaboom, tantrum town!

The good news is you can manage it confidently without needing to yell or punish. Here’s what you can do:

1. Be the calm to their chaos

It’s easy to also want to lose it when your child is screaming and flailing. The urge to yell “stop it!” or do something to them to make the tantrum stop can be very real.

If you need to leave your child with another caregiver for a few minutes to calm yourself, go ahead and do that. You can let your child know, “Mama feels really angry right now and I need to go to my room to calm down for a few minutes. I’ll be back with you when I’m calmer.”

Reframing tantrums as being a healthy part of their development helps too as it reminds us that it’s not an emergency and letting them release those emotions can help them become more balanced after it.

So try to stay as calm as possible without joining in their dysregulation as your calm presence will help your child calm down easier.

2. Allow and acknowledge feelings

Allowing and acknowledging feelings will help your child feel seen and heard. That’s what’s going to make a difference. Instead of trying different things in an attempt to stop the crying, just allowing the feelings to be expressed and acknowledging them will help your child feel.

This can sound like:

· “You’re so upset it’s time to leave now. You still want to go on the slide.

· “I hear that you want mama to be with you now. She’s in a meeting and I’m going to be with you until she comes out. It can be so hard to wait for mama.”

On top of that, observe your child’s needs in the moment. Is he asking for a hug? Does he find comfort in you stroking her back? Does she just want some space without you touching her? Observe those needs and provide that comfort without trying to stop the expression of feelings.

3. Hold boundaries

Your child may be flailing and screaming their heads off, and you being their confident leader can continue to hold the boundary as this will in time help your child adapt to the boundary better in time. Let me show you what I mean:

· “Would you like to walk to the shower or would you like me to carry you? It looks like you need me to carry you. Here we go.”

· “You’re telling me you really don’t want to be in the car seat. I hear you. And I need to keep you safe. Here, I’m putting your left hand in, then your right, and I’m buckling it up.”

Being consistent and confident in your boundaries will help your child tantrum less in the future because they know what to expect.

4. Let them ride the wave of emotions to the end

It’s tempting to want to hush them and make all the yucky feelings your child is feeling go away. As tempting as it is, it’s the healthier option for your child’s emotional health to allow them to express their feelings all the way. To let them ride the waves of emotions, knowing that it will pass. By allowing them to ride it out until they’re done, it gives them a chance to realise that emotions come and go and they don’t have to suppress it or be afraid of it.

You’ve got this!

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