Screaming, crying, yelling, pouting — all signs of a storm brewing within your child. As parents, we can see the signs of a tantrum beginning and an immediate sense of dread washes over us. Our brains start thinking, “This is an emergency! I need to fix this right away!” We can feel our stress levels beginning to rise until we are almost as upset as our children.
During these times, it is important to be aware of yourself and your mindset and then try to stay calm. While easier said than done, here are five tips for keeping clam during tantrums.
1. Prepare Your Mind
While we want to try our best to prevent tantrums, it’s impossible to avoid all of them. Once you recognize the signs that an outburst is starting, you can brace yourself. Trust in yourself that you can handle their large emotions. Remember, it is not about you.
Children experience intense emotions that they don’t know how to manage. While they may project these difficult feelings onto you, it is more them trying to understand how they are feeling rather than them being upset towards you. Tell yourself it will end soon, then the parenting can begin.
2. These Are Your Child’s Emotions, Not Yours
Children do not have the skills to communicate emotions at a young age. They feel things intensely and don’t know another way to release this tension. Just because they are experiencing an emotional response does not mean that you have to. Ground yourself by practicing mindfulness, take deep breathes, and even walk away for a few minutes. Talk your emotions through with a partner, friend, or family member and identify your emotions in the process. Understanding how these tantrums make you feel can help you regulate them in the moment.
3. Don’t Take Tantrums Personally
Crying and screaming are a normal part of child development. It’s the only way they know how to express themselves during this time period. It’s not about you, it’s about them trying to communicate a need. Instead of feeding into the tantrum, try to understand what they are communicating.
Demonstrate communication skills by presenting them with options about how they may be feeling. Help them identify the emotion and what caused them to feel that way. Remind yourself that they are still babies and cannot vocalize needs effectively. You did nothing wrong and it is not your fault.
4. Minimize Words
At the peak of the tantrum, children are going to be unable to pay attention to what you’re saying. Give them space and allow them to work through the entirety of their emotions. You can try to get them to calm down by breathing with them, letting them know it’s okay and you are right here, and even soothing them by hugging or holding them.
Once you notice them relax, take this opportunity to educate and understand the reason behind the tantrum. Present other options for them to release emotions other than yelling and crying.
5. Form a Connection
Change your mindset to take a more positive spin on tantrums. This is not a result of poor parenting or a bad behaved kid. This is an opportunity for you to connect with your child and normalize their emotions. Allowing them a safe space to express their feelings will build a bond between you, and they will feel comfortable going to you for help with other difficult emotions. Telling them that you love them and are here for them will help future tantrums, and could possibly even decrease the frequency of them.
If you feel you are struggling with personal emotions during your child’s tantrum, seeking help from a mental health professional may also be beneficial. Learn coping skills and techniques to help keep your emotions in check so you may better support your children. Schedule a session today!