Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Truth About Temper Tantrums

The Truth About Us

Why is it that we, as adults, do not always exhibit self control, but we expect our little children to 100% of the time? We get irritated, frustrated and perhaps angry when our children loose control. The truth is that most of us struggle with self-control and we loose it when things don't go our way.

The Truth About Children

The same concept applies to smaller humans. When things don't go their way they can loose it too. I think it becomes frustrating to us adults because their problems consist of a little brother taking a toy, wanting a cookie they can't have, or wanting to put on a bathing suit not clothes. Our adult problems are so much more important, right? The truth is that is their whole world. They are learning and physically growing everyday. They are gaining a sense of self. That is why children say "no". They are learning that they are someone separate from you. They are learning that they are their own person. 

Children typically do what they have seen. When I see a child of mine break down I wonder what he has seen in me. Did I teach him that? Most likely. On the flip side when I see a child of mine react to an adversity with calm and control I wonder what he has seen in me. Did I teach them that? Most likely. All parenting starts with the parent. You can't teach someone something you do not yet possess. 

The Tantrum

A child starts a tantrum because things are not going his way. Have you ever noticed that once a child is in a tantrum you can not talk sense to him? That is because once a person is angry the brain is functioning in the limbic system, which is not the thinking part (the cortex). 

1. You first need to allow the child to calm down. 
2. Once he is calm then you can talk to him about what happened. The teaching moment can not happen during the tantrum. (The same goes for adults.) 
3. After he is calm and you find out what caused it you can teach him what to say. For example, if someone took his toy, you teach him to say "I don't like it when you take my toys. I would like it back." 

You get the idea. They need to learn to be assertive and express their feelings in a healthy way.


I think the bottom line is that we need to be empathetic to children who are upset. There needs to be a disconnection between their emotions and yours. 

I like an analogy I read. It said something like this: You filled out a form for work. When you went to your boss with the form he said, "You filled it out wrong! Go back and fix it!" The problem is you don't what is wrong and therefore, you don't know how to fix it. It would be helpful if your boss said, "Section A is wrong you need to fill it out this way." And then he shows you how so you can do it correctly next time. 

Children need some lovin when they are upset and then they need to be taught, not just shoved off. Remember the tantrum is because life is not going their way. Calm them down, find out what it is, then have a wonderful teaching moment!

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