I will put you in a deep insight that changed my life.
Your kids don’t need tantrum training, but you probably do!
No doubt you’ve always been shown and told that tantrums are a bad thing. It’s a common view.
But I think you come to appreciate them–Once you see how they can restore your child’s good thinking.
All it takes is a little retraining!
Tantrum Training 1: Ignoring Tantrums Doesn’t Help
Here is the recast.
In our culture, tantrums are perceived as something to suppress, something to ignore, something to distract.
The Parenting by Connection perspective offers a completely different perspective.
Science shows us how the human brain is built for connections.
From birth, children’s brains are hardwired to seek connection and security. When they feel the warm, loving attention of a caring adult, children thrive. But life is not always easy for our little people, and even things that seem harmless to us adults can really upset a baby or child. A door slamming loudly or the mother walking into the next room can upset your child’s sense of connectedness.
When a child does not feel a sense of security they can get upset, and when that excitement happens the thinking part of the brain goes offline. Trying to restore logic and sanity to this point by talking during a fit of anger or excitement simply cannot work.
Tantrum Training 2: How to Help Tantrum Without Speaking
Your child is good and wants to be well behaved, but when they lose the sense of connection they lose impulse control.
Your child, like children all over the world, has an instinctive healing process that works wonderfully to bring their thinking mind back online when they lose their sense of connection.
Your child’s body is designed to elegantly restore balance through laughter, sweating, tears, tremors and tantrums. By letting out all of these difficult feelings in a fit of anger, your child can return to their good, thinking self.
The rational, logical brain can work again, unhindered by a flood of emotions.
If you can stay with your child during the tantrum and not try to change things, fix things, or silence things, your child will reach the end of that emotional storm. They will look up and see that you have been an anchor all along.
You haven’t judged, threatened, or distracted. They sat next to them and just let them have their feelings. You heard her.
What a gift!
Hand in hand parenting calls this practice of staying with a disgruntled child staylisting.
Tantrum Training 3: Try It At Home For The First Time
Well, it’s entirely possible that you think this sounds like an impossible idea. Sitting in the middle of the mall with my child while they have a tantrum?
We recommend that the first time you try to support your child in this way, do it at home or in a place where you feel very safe and supported. It can be really hard to listen to the depth of your child’s feelings without adding inquisitive (or judgmental) looks.
Here’s a great post on how to deal with tantrums in public.
Tantrum Workout 4: Try Just Five Minutes
My challenge for you is to try this out for just five minutes.
If you have a toddler, you will likely have regular opportunities to try this out. If you can make it to the end of the excitement, so much the better.
But if five minutes is all you have or all you can give, that’s amazing, too.
If you pour your love into it while your child is upset, there is the space they need to reflect again.
The next thing you need to do is observe your child’s behavior afterward.
They know you are on the right track when irritability or defiance wear off for a while.
What happens? Are you kinder to the cat? More connected to you? More able to play independently?
Because you surrounded your child with your loving attention and supported them with deep excitement, you built on your connection and relationship.
It’s definitely worth experimenting with this approach. By sticking to your child’s big emotions and not trying to change them, you are giving a wonderful gift and getting something in return – back to your warm, cooperative, loving little one!
Here’s how this strategy can work in real life
In this true story from the book Listen by Patty Wipfler and Tosha Schore, a mother explains how frustrated her child gets up after listening to her cry.
My six-year-old twin girls and I were at home together on a hot summer afternoon looking for something to do. I thought paper crafting would be fun so I looked for information on making long paper doll and snowflake necklaces. Why snowflakes?
Every cool thought with over 108 degrees outside helps!
I drew pictures of boys or girls on paper and my daughters cut them out. We had a decent time, but after a short while my daughter became very frustrated. She gets frustrated when she can’t learn something as quickly as she’d like.
Often she gives up completely and calls herself stupid.
It pains me to see this bright kid give up. I had listened for a while to come to terms with my own feelings about this, and it should pay off.
Cutting the paper dolls was not easy as we had to cut eight layers of paper. She wanted to do it herself without help, but couldn’t do it with her children’s scissors and small hands. She was so frustrated that she threw the paper doll on the table and said, “I’m going to stop!”
I saw the learning pattern show up, and instead of trying to make her feel better by comforting her or by doing so, I stayed calm and waited.
She fell on the floor and had a fit of anger, cried and showed me how helpless she felt. I was listening for ten to fifteen minutes.
As soon as it started, it stopped. I watched her settle down, and although I believed she would be better, I didn’t think she would return to the craft after being so excited.
I was wrong.
She came back to the table, asked for the scissors, and went back to cutting the dolls. Not only did she finish these paper dolls, she continued making dolls for an hour, and when she finished she had made a girl, a boy, a mother, a father, and two more rows of paper dolls.
I was surprised.
She was so proud of herself and her ability to make the dolls after all. And I’ve learned something important. These tools work as promised.
I felt empowered to help her.
I finally had a way to reach for her when she closed: just listen.
This post originally appeared on Belynda’s blog, Parenting By Connection With Belynda Smith.
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