Nobody said parenting was easy, especially when it comes to handling your child's tantrums! We know how exasperating, frustrating, and even embarrassing it can be when your little one has a meltdown in public. And if you're also expecting a new addition to the family, then that stress is multiplied even more.
But don't despair! There are effective strategies for dealing with difficult emotions, even if your child is older. Whether your child is throwing a temper tantrum because they want their own way or are struggling to control their emotions, we have some winning tactics for managing it all.
In this post, we'll provide essential tips on how to handle tantrums so you can remain calm and composed under pressure. Hopefully with our advice, you'll be able to manage those intense storms like a pro and navigate parenting with greater success!
Understanding Your Child's Emotions: What Is a Tantrum?
When it comes to managing your child's emotions, it's important to understand what a tantrum actually is. Contrary to popular opinion, tantrums are not a sign of bad behavior, but are a normal part of childhood development. Basically, tantrums happen when a child feels overwhelmed by their emotions and cannot express them in any other way. This means that how you handle your child during and after a tantrum is key.
Here are some tips for managing the situation:
- Be patient and understanding. Let your child know it's okay to feel overwhelmed and they're not being judged.
- Do your best to remain calm so you can act as an example. Take a few deep breaths if necessary.
- Give them space if they need it. Stand back if necessary for safety reasons but let them know you're there for them when they're ready.
- Talk through their feelings and help them find the words. Once they have identified the emotion behind the outburst, you can help them manage it better in the future by finding healthier ways of expressing those feelings.
Strategies for Calming Tantrums: Tips for Younger and Older Children
Tantrums are a normal part of childhood, not only for toddlers and preschoolers but also for older kids. And when you're expecting another child, dealing with the existing child's tantrums can be particularly challenging.
So, what can you do to help your child manage their emotions better and reduce their tantrum episodes? Here are some useful strategies for both younger and older children.
For Younger Children
- Be understanding. Talking in a calm, gentle voice and reassuring your child that their feelings are valid can help them feel heard and respected.
- Give choices. Presenting the child with two feasible options (e.g., “Do you want to take a nap or read a story?”) can help them feel like they have control over the situation instead of feeling helpless.
- Distract them. If they're getting overwhelmed, provide distractions such as introducing new activities or asking them questions about something unrelated to the source of their frustration.
For Older Children
- Set boundaries and consequences clearly. When your child misbehaves, make sure that you give clear verbal cues so they understand what is expected of them; also decide on logical consequences ahead of time to reinforce your expectations (e.g., if they ignore your rules, they may lose privileges).
- Model appropriate behavior yourself. Show empathy even in difficult situations; it will show your child how to respond appropriately in difficult situations without resorting to temper tantrums or aggression.
- Give positive reinforcement for preferred behaviors & actions taken by your child in dealing with their emotions (e.g., using self-control or finding creative solutions).
Addressing Inappropriate Behaviors Associated With Tantrums
When it comes to dealing with any inappropriate behaviors that your child may be displaying while in the midst of a temper tantrum, it is important to remember that there are some strategies which may help.
The first is to remain calm and collected. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the situation, then scream at your child for misbehaving, but doing so can make things worse and cause the tantrum to escalate into something more destructive.
The second strategy is to not give in and reward the behavior. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't comfort them or show empathy, but try not to give them rewards that they don't need and could view as a reward. This could lead to an expectation of rewards every time a tantrum happens, making the problem worse.
The third approach is actively redirecting the tantrum and helping your child process their emotions through rational communication. For instance, if they are shouting out of frustration, try offering them a pencil and paper where they can express themselves through drawing. If they are feeling angry, try sitting with them and calmly discussing why they're feeling this way so you can help find a solution together. Finally, if appropriate punishment is necessary for what happened during their tantrum, ensure that it's consistent so your child knows what expectations you have for their behavior going forward.
When to Seek Professional Help for Extreme Tantrums
In most cases, you can handle your child’s tantrums on your own. However, if your child's emotional outbursts seem to be overwhelming or escalating into aggression, it might be a good idea to seek professional help.
When Should You Seek Professional Help?
Tantrums can become more frequent and intense as children get older, and when the emotions are so severe, it is hard to manage them effectively. Additionally, if you are pregnant and feeling overwhelmed by the escalated tantrums of an older child, you may want to reach out for help.
Who Can Give You Help?
One place to start is by talking to your doctor or pediatrician about what you are going through with your child. They can provide advice or refer you to a mental health specialist who can assess the situation in more detail and suggest strategies for managing extreme tantrums. Additionally, family therapy may provide useful insights into dealing with meltdowns.
Coping With Your Own Emotions During a Tantrum Episode
When you're trying to deal with a tantrum from your child, you might find yourself struggling with how to help them while also managing your own emotions. It can be incredibly difficult, especially when you're also pregnant.
Here are some tips that can help:
- Take a few deep breaths. This will help reduce cortisol levels and reduce stress, making it easier to stay calm.
- Talk in a calm, soothing voice. Use phrases like "it's ok" and "I understand". This will show your child that they can trust you and that there is an adult who cares about them in the midst of their emotional upheaval.
- Show empathy. Let your child know that it's ok to feel their emotions and be sensitive to their feelings. Acknowledge the feelings without necessarily condoning their behavior.
- Create structure. Help them understand boundaries by using consistent language and expectations for how they should behave in certain situations, such as during a tantrum episode or when they are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed with emotions.
- Spend time together. Make sure to spend quality time together each day, so your child feels supported and nurtured in the midst of any tough situation or tricky emotion they are navigating through during a tantrum episode.
Parenting Tips When You're Also Pregnant and Dealing with Toddler Temper
Being pregnant and parenting a toddler or older child can be a lot to handle, which is why it’s essential to come up with some strategies on how to best manage your child’s temper tantrums. Here are some top tips:
Acknowledge their feelings
It can be overwhelming for a parent when your toddler is having a meltdown, but the key is not to overreact and acknowledge their feelings. Let them know it's ok that they feel angry or frustrated, but explain why the behavior is unacceptable. Widen your perspective and consider where the emotion is coming from before reacting harshly.
Show Healthy Ways to Manage Feelings
Once you have acknowledged their emotions, help your toddler find healthy ways of regulating themselves. For example, encourage them to take deep breaths and recommend activities like coloring, drawing or playing with toys as a way for them to express themselves in a constructive way.
Offer Positive Attention
Remind your child that you love them regardless of whether they are having a tantrum or not. Show extra attention when they are in control of their emotions, such as rewarding positive behavior with praise and hugs. This will give them an emotional boost and will also reinforce positive behaviors when it comes to managing temper tantrums.
Parenting storms can come in many forms, from toddler tantrums to teenage rebellion. No matter the age, the important thing to remember is to remain calm, focus on understanding what’s driving the tantrum in the first place, and provide your child with empathy and understanding. If you’re currently pregnant and dealing with an older child’s tantrum, it can be difficult to remain calm and collected. So, take a step back if you need to and create a distraction if things get too heated.
Remember that tantrums stem from emotions and the goal is to help your child learn to manage these emotions. By implementing these strategies and tips, you can help your child to eventually learn to manage these emotional storms himself, while still providing the support they need to feel safe, secure, and accepted.