Our lovely Child & Family Therpist, Jennifer Lynne Walker MSW, shares her 3 best tips to stop a tantrum. As a Mama to two school-aged children, and with over two decades of experience in Child Mental Health & Welfare, Jenn has had lots of experience helping children and families move from chaos to connection. Warmly, xoMichelle
Create a safe space to HAVE IT - don't fight it.If children are overwhelmed by their feelings, it can be a scary feeling in their bodies and they need to get it out.Allowing children to 'safely' express their feelings (which means you stay present, and still set limits like no hitting, no swearing, etc.) validates their big feelings and meets a child's need to feel noticed. This also helps a child begin to self-regulate in a supportive space.
A Quiet Snug HugHolding a child through a tantrum can provide physical support and reassurance that they are not alone with their big feelings. Remaining quiet prevents us from judging/minimizing/punishing or trying to fix and take away a child's feelings.While your child wiggles and squirms, a quiet snug hug can help them catch their breath and melt into your love and acceptance of their feelings. Read my tips on connecting when you are stressed and frustrated' here.
Stay Close & Set LimitsWhen a child is overwhelmed by their emotions, it's SO important that we not let ours overwhelm us (and you will be triggered by their big emotions!!)"it's ok to feel angry, but it's not ok to hit me"; "when you're ready, I'm right here, but it's not ok to swear at me"; "I see that you're frustrated with me, that's ok but it's not ok to hurt our cat". Setting clear expectations, and remaining consistent and close, will give your child a point of reference they can rely on (I often picture parents like a lighthouse with a consistent light to follow, unwavering even in a storm) - these 'one liners' which are famous in my house, help me remain calm and consistent during those challenging behaviours
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jenn is a Child & Family Therapist for the Counting Butterflies Wellness Tribe. With over twenty years of professional experience in Child & Family Mental Health, Jenn is skilled at joining and navigating families to grow and thrive. Her specializations include Play & Attachment-Based Therapy, and is passionate about supporting the social-emotional needs of children aged pre-school through early teenage-hood. Visit Jenn's virtual home here.