Stopping the tantrum train from leaving the station
Do you ever notice that when your child has a melt down, it tends to trigger your own melt down?
So often, when my kids start ranting and raving and launching into full-blown tanty mode – I seem to get drawn in and in no time at all, I too, am having my own adult version of a tanty.
Don’t you speak to me like that,
Who do you think you are talking to young lady?
DON’T YOU SLAM THAT DOOR,
RIGHT…. that’s it. You’ve done it now.
(And funnily enough – I usually dont actually have a consequence set up for the ‘you’ve done it now moments!!’)
Yes – Down the rabbit hole I can go.
So what the actual heck is that all about.
Kids have tanty’s and act out their emotions – they are geniuses at living in the here and now, so everything is out in the open!
(Its actually incredibly admirable, their willingness to be vulnerable, and raw and present!!)
So they start:
It’s not fair
I hate you
But why cant I have it, I WANT it, I really really NEEEEED it….
And what seems to happen is their behavior triggers in us our own childhood “traumas”.
All those times WE really, really NEEDED something and were told to CUT THAT OUT
All those times WE really, really felt like it’s just not fair and were told – Life’s not fair…
All of those childhood injustices come flooding back in that moment and kaBoom – We REACT.
And more often than not – it’s not particularly effective or helpful for the situation at hand.
So is there another way?
A more successful way to deal with the ensuing tanty of our child without slipping into one of our own?
Trying a new approach to Tantrum Management.
Well the short answer is YES.
Yes there is another, more effective, more productive way.
And the only catch is really that you just need to be AWARE.
Yes! Its helpful to be MINDFUL, and that takes practice.
If you can grab the moment – right before you slip into REACTION mode, and just remember EMPATHY.
So your child is yelling, stomping, crying, and being unreasonable.
This is the moment where you decide – NO I will not just be unreasonable too,
Instead I will EMPATHISE.
Wow, you seem really angry/sad/frustrated… right now.
Good old fashioned Empathy! Who knew??
Mock Conversation Example - Empathy
So, how would that LOOK? Well it could go a little something like this:
Child I hate you
Adult Oh wow, you seem really angry right now
Child I’m NOT angry, go away
Adult Its ok to be angry, everyone gets angry sometimes, you can come and have a snuggle when you’re ready
Child Go away, I hate you
Adult I know, I love you – even when you’re angry
Child Shut up
Adult Mmm, you know what I love to do when I’m angry? Punch cushions
(Some children LOVE a physical outlet – so it’s great to offer them a ‘healthy’ option!!)
It can keep going, but eventually they will NEED some kind of love from you and the world as you know it will return to happy and harmonious.
Remember to breathe, and the best part is, you will feel so ‘in control’ and in a wonderful space of nurturing rather than the out of control reactionary tantrum space!
Think about a time as an adult when
Maybe you’ve lost the keys, and are running late…..
Or you’ve made a big mistake and you’re feeling sick about it…..
What is the response you WANT from your partner or friends?
“Oh no, I cant find my keys and I’ve got an appointment in 15 minutes!”
You really don’t NEED (or WANT) to hear
You always do this,
If you just put them in the key dish when you get home, this wouldn’t happen
What is wrong with you?
I told you you’d be late,
None of those things are helpful or appreciated are they
(Please all take note for future reference when I have lost my keys and ask you for help!!)
No, what you want to hear is something more like
‘Oh no – quick, I’ll help you look for them’
Oh, that’s such a pain, how frustrating for you………
What you are hoping for is a kind empathetic response and guess what
Our kids are the same.
They don’t need to be told all of the ‘I told you so’s”
They just need to know that you get it.
They are just having a frustration moment, it will pass, they will return to being adorable at some point in the not too distant future.
So if you can manage it, next time the tanty begins to erupt,
To remain in an empathetic space, where you can verbalise the feelings your child is likely feeling and let them know that you get it and that you will be there for them when they are ready.