Managing tantrums

What causes tantrums?

Generally tantrums are caused by the brain being overloaded.  Often what happens is that the brain hasn’t learnt how to process the emotions that your child is currently feeling.  That’s why logic and reason don’t work at this point.

And that’s why this is the point when we’ve felt like smacking them or just losing it and shouting.  It’s a weird psychological trick called projection, they’ve just transferred their overwhelm onto you!

For example during the ‘terrible twos’ (or ones or threes or even 9s!) your child is experiencing new emotions and struggling to learn from them.  By keep calming them down, soothing them and hugging them you are giving ‘containment’ to those emotions and slowly but surely teaching the brain how to cope with them.

The way the brain is wired, means the more you help your child to come down from overload, the more likely it is that you will set their ‘maximum temperature’.

How to handle tantrums

Baby/toddler:
Soothe them, hold them, speak softly.
When they are calm practice with them what they should do, use toys to practice.
Child:
Be empathetic.
Use the things that worked when they were babies to soothe them.
Give them a hug.
Distract them.
Give them special jobs at times they normally have a tantrum.
When they are calm practice with them what they should do.
 
Teenager:
Be empathetic.
Offer them a win-win get out.
Distract them and come back to it.
Pre-empt the tantrum and give them a way out before they get there.
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