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What do I do if my child throws a tantrum?

Posted By Blisspot Wellbeing in Parenting on March 6, 2017

Answer: 1 • Score: 2 • Views: 4237
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    It is normal for children to throw tantrums when they are around 2 or so. This is a natural and important part of their developmental phase. So it's not that tantrums are bad, in fact, the way in which we handle them that is important in teaching our child valuable emotional intelligence that can support them for the rest of their life. These skills can make their life easier going forward by helping them to form positive connections with others. 

    When your child has a tantrum, usually they are angry because they are not getting what they want. When they are having a full blown tantrum, crying, kicking and screaming, this is not the time to reason with them!! They are so full of anger and emotion they will not be able to hear you. You may have to let the tantrum run its course a bit, until the emotion passes through them. As long as they are safe you may even need to walk away and come back when they can even just take in what you are saying.

    Never make them feel like their emotion is wrong or that gives them the message that is OK not to feel. Children have the ability to feel very easily. They can be happy one minute, angry next, then sad and then happy again. This is the natural ebb and flow of feelings. It's when we suppress these feelings or act out on them in negative ways that problems occur. For example, when we are taught to suppress our feelings we push them further and further down inside until they will either make us sick with stomach problems or headaches for example. Alternatively, the feelings that people have been taught are wrong, can build and build inside them until the person explodes acting out on the feelings and often hurting others in the process.

    So when the tantrum has subsided even a little, this is the time to validate your child's feelings by saying: "I can see your angry/sad/mad (the emotion) that you can't have your toy/the apple/pull your sister's hair" (the situation). This validation of their emotions should help them to feel calm and understood. Then you can give a brief explanation why and tell them what they need to do, such as the need to share or that your sister has feelings and pulling her hair will hurt her.

    Effectively you are giving them some space until they calm down, name and validate the emotion, explain (very briefly why, a long explanation or lengthy reasoning will lose their attention) and say what they did. This is a confident, firm, kind and caring way and you will be the parent who they know is clearly in charge yet is supportive and kind. Knowing that you are in charge makes them feel safe and secure and that you are acting in their best interests.

    At around two years of age children start exploring and finding out in the world what is and isn’t acceptable. They learn this through what they are exposed to and often what is reflected back to them by adults. During this phase, a child’s language skills are developing rapidly, and it is important to teach them how to use their words to get what they want, rather than acting out on their feelings by sulking or having a tantrum. If this stage of development isn’t completed effectively, adults can still fall back on sulking or having tantrums, to get what they want!

    For children and adults who have not completed this stage of development, having a tantrum or sulking will be a coping mechanism to get what they want, no matter what their age. Expanding our awareness is about learning new and better ways in emotional mastery. If life is difficult, challenging or a struggle, this is a sign that we still have things to learn.

    This period of a child’s life is all about boundaries. For example to learn, kindly and gently, that it’s not acceptable to destroy others’ property or to hit other children on the head with their toys. It is essential that healthy boundaries of respect and kindness towards others are set at this age. These skills will allow them to relate to and connect to others for the rest of their life.

    Walls may block you in, but boundaries will set you free. ~ Guy Morgan

    Our children want and need us to guide them as they grow and discover the world. It is essential to respect a child’s sense of self and their internal guidance system. It is also essential for their well-being and happiness, that we are confident in stepping up, (within reason as we are only human too) and being there for them as wise and compassionate role models.

    Deborah Tyson on March 15, 2017

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