We have all been there. Our kid is throwing a tantrum, they are screaming at the top of their lungs, they are telling us no. They do not want to cooperate, they do not want to listen. They have made up their mind, so now what do you do? You feel defeated, you feel angry, and you feel embarrassed. All of these emotions and more are completely normal. Both the parent and the child are in the midst of an emotional battle, mostly amongst their own emotions. Mom is warring with her inner mom, and child is warring with their own emotions. It’s a very difficult situation.
It can be made infinitely worse by being somewhere public. It is human nature to want to appear like we all have it together. Well, guess what, we don’t, and that’s ok. Everyone may be watching, and judging, but guess what? I can guarantee they have all been there, and if they haven’t they are lying.
So what do we do when we are at our wits end. Honestly, there is no cure all. Kids have tantrums, parents argue with them during tantrums, parents get upset, kids get upset. But does the world end? Nope. Child development experts tell us that children have tantrums because they cannot control their emotions or rule their world quite yet. Which makes sense, if you couldn’t make yourself calm down, and you were in a situation in which you felt helpless you would freak out too. Keeping this in mind there are some ways to make it easier to help your child help themselves doing a tantrum.
- Validate what they are feeling in the moment. If your kid is screaming because they want to keep playing and not sit down to eat lunch even you can understand that. Imagine the alarm just went off and you don’t want to get up for work. Similar feeling. So get down to their level, look them in the eye and validate that feeling, “I know you want to keep playing because its more fun than eating lunch.”
- Compromise, and give them an alternative. “You can finish playing when we finish eating lunch, your toys will wait for you.”
- Connect with them. Sometimes when a child misbehaves they are really looking for a physical connection. Giving them that connection can help ground their emotions and lets them know its ok to feel the way they do. A simple way to gain a physical connection everyday is a hug.
- Choices!! This is a toddlers bread and butter. Choices help them feel like they have some control over their life. So give them two or three options that work in the moment that you approve of. They still end up doing what you want, but by their own choice.