By Sarah, Contributing Writer
Your kid is melting down and you are about to lose your mind… for the 4th time and it’s only 9 AM!
We all know the classic signs of a tantrum! The screaming and crying. Feet stomping and tense muscles. Saying and doing irrational things. Overall feeling of being out of control.
Think about the tantrum that happened most recently in your home. What was the situation and how did things transpire?
As parents we are constantly trying to find our way and to guide our children through life, but sometimes it is just so hard. How do we deal with a child who is completely irrational and in the middle of a tantrum?
When the Tantrum Starts….
Perhaps this is a familiar scenario:
It’s time to leave for school. You have everyone dressed and ready to load up in the car. You make a quick trip out of the room to grab your purse, but by the time you return your toddler has removed his shoes, coat and hat. He announces he won’t be wearing them. Here we go…
You had everyone ready to go. And, you were even on time. You tell the little guy that he cannot leave the house without a coat and hat on such a cold day. He resists and you forcefully put it on him. He is adamant that he wear his sandals. You tell him he cannot wear them in the winter and take them out of his hand and put them out of his reach. The battle continues.
Your voice is stern and you are becoming very frustrated as you are quite aware of the time. Finally, you get the kids out the door and into the car. Your toddler is very independent and must get into his car seat all by himself! But he doesn’t. You are late and he is not cooperating.
Your patience is wearing thin. He giggles and runs to the back of the van instead of getting into his seat. This is the last straw. You pick him up and try to put him in his car seat. He arches his back, kicks his legs and starts to scream. Here comes the tantrum. He is out of control with crying, screaming, body flailing. You cannot buckle him in.
The classic tantrum. Your child does not get his way and begins flailing about, out of control, crying, and a mess!
Or what if it isn’t your child? What if you were throwing the tantrum? Or maybe you both were? You didn’t get your way when he chose different shoes. You didn’t get your way when you didn’t leave on time. You didn’t get your way when you wanted him in his seat.
It seems quite logical in your mind that he must do all of these things to get to school and on time, but to him he has his own ideas and agenda. Your reaction was to scream, flail your arms about, maybe cry and you are an emotional mess by the end. Your child is reacting to you, just as you are to him.
It is so hard and challenging to be a parent at times. We all know this. You are doing your best and it is hard to find patience at times.
The best way to help a child who is having a tantrum, is to avoid having a tantrum yourself. When you feel your child spinning out of control during a tantrum look at yourself; do you feel yourself spinning out of control as well? Are your fight or flight instincts kicking in? It’s your child and he needs help, so take some time to calm down, so you can help your child work through his emotions.
7 Things to Do When Your Child is Having a Tantrum
Here are my 7 things you should do when your child is having a tantrum… to avoid a mommy-tantrum.
#1) Take Long Deep Breaths
Count them out in your head until you feel calm again. There is no rush or emergency. That need to be at school or other commitments are arbitrary at the moment. Often times when we try to rush our children things take longer…right?
How is your child feeling and how would you like to be treated if you were feeling that same way? Take a minute to assess how your child must be feeling and know his feelings are real. You may not agree with your child, but you can see where he is coming from.
#3) Let Your Child be Sad
It is okay if your child feels upset or sad about something. Help them identify their feelings and comfort them. Remember, there is no emergency or rush. Trying to rush your child through his feelings typically only takes longer.
#4) Tell Your Child you Love Him
Let your child know that you always love them- unconditionally. Hug them and show them affection- even if you are feeling frustrated with them. Showing your child love does not show them that you support a bad behavior, it shows them that you love them even when their body gets out of control and they make bad choices.
#5) Talk Your Child Through What Happened and What Will Happen Next
You have given your child a chance to express their feelings and to calm down. You have showed him love. Now it is time to talk things through. “I know you are frustrated that you cannot wear your Crocs today. I cannot let you wear them because it is dangerous for you to have cold and wet feet in this weather. Would you like to hold them in the car since you cannot wear them today?”
#6) Consider External Factors that Might be Affecting your Child
Things like hunger, overly tired, too much stimulation, bathroom needs, physical discomfort (teething) or illness. A simple trip to the bathroom or a handful of almonds might have a big effect on your little guy. Move your child to a private space if they are feeling over stimulated and help them take some deep breathes to calm down. Assess yourself too! Perhaps you are the one who needs a trip to the bathroom or a handful of almonds!
#7) Walk Away if You Need to
Even if it is only for a minute, take some time and go wash your face, step outside in the fresh air, or simple go to another room for a moment. Parents need time to calm down when they feel a tantrum coming on too!
When you see a parent out in public with a child who is having a hard day, remember that that parent is doing the best that he can. It is hard when you feel like you have the world staring at you as your child screams and flails about. Give that parent a smile- they probably need it!
I’ve certainly lost control and thrown many mommy-tantrums, it’s a constant work in progress!
What’s Your Favorite Mommy Tantrum Story?
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