Children as young as 2 are known well for throwing tantrums because they feel frustrated and can not express their feelings in a constructive manner. As children age, this is still an issue and can ramp up again for Pre-teens and teenagers as hormones begin to surge, however, there are 5 steps to calming your child’s emotional meltdown which may help both you and your child in this situation.
Whether your child feels really angry as someone has taken something from them or just really disappointed if something doesn’t turn out the way they wanted you can help if you know how to. Children don’t always have the skills to think rationally and may even do things they will regret later as they have not thought them through.
You might feel that this is just how your child behaves and it is true that personality can play a part, however particular circumstances out of their control like tiredness, hunger and your reaction can also affect your child’s ability to deal with their own strong emotions.
Learning to calm down is an essential skill that you can help your child to learn.
How to your child to calm down: five steps
1. Notice that your child is emotional
If your child looks like they need help to calm down, stop, take a moment to analyse the situation before you act.
Here are some ideas to help you identify your child’s feelings:
- Stay calm and listen to what your child is saying. For example, if your child lost something, they might be feeling disappointed. They might say someone took it instead of identifying that it may have been their fault.
- Try ‘standing in their shoes by remembering or imagining yourself in a similar situation.
- If it was lost at home take a big breath in and out and explain that you understand that they are feeling frustrated and that sometimes when we take a break from looking for the lost item we come across it. Us the three-day rule and look for ten minutes each day. You can teach an important life skill in the moment as there will be many, many time in life that items are misplaced.
2. Call it what it is
The second step is to label the emotion and connect it with the event. For example, ‘I understand you are feeling frustrated and disappointed ’. This helps your child understand what they’re feeling and why.
It can be hard for your child to work out what the emotion is when they’re very upset, particularly if they’re still learning to identify their emotions. So you might say, ‘You seem really frustrated’ rather than ‘Are you feeling frustrated?’
3. Use silence: pause and say nothing
Pausing a moment to give your child an opportunity to think and reply is important. It’s hard not to jump in and start talking however your contact talking might increase their frustration.
4. Support your child while they calm down
If your child is very upset, they might need more time to calm down.
For example, if they are walking away from you and stomping or heading to their room, let them go. Following them could possibly be the worst thing you could do so let them be if they are in a safe place. Your child is more likely to calm down if you stay calm and accept their emotions.
If your child leaves the house, match your response to your child’s age and maturity.
It’s tempting to say things like ‘Why don’t you go for a walk?’ or ‘Try taking some deep breaths. But your child might not be able to respond to these suggestions until their emotions have passed.
When your child is calm, help your child understand the difference between emotion and behaviour. For example, ‘It’s OK to feel frustrated and disappointed. But it wasn’t OK to yell at me and kick the chair’.
5. Address the behaviour or problem-solve
Your child needs to calm down before you can help them solve a problem.
Here are some suggestions:
- If your child is upset about a rule that you won’t or can’t change, acknowledge your child’s emotions but avoid a debate. For example, ‘I know you’re angry because you can’t have the ipad. But we’re not comfortable with more than 2 hours of ipad time per day. You used up your time and I will not allow any more time. Other things we can do together include … or would you like some space?
- If your child is behaving in physically or verbally harmful ways, let them know this behaviour is unacceptable. For example, ‘It’s not OK to speak to me like that, or ‘We’ll have to patch and paint that hole in the plaster this weekend. The cost of the materials will come out of your pocket money and you must help me fix it”.
- Offer a hug and say things like “even when I’m cross with you I love you”. They may not say it back, however it’s important that they know that your are not happy however you still love them.
Tantrum. ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND naturally assists with anxious moments for babies, little kids and even big kids, grounding them and creating a sense of peace and calmness.
Calming down: getting help
If you think your child needs more help dealing with their feelings, start by talking to their GP. The GP can help you find support for your child, which might include seeing a psychologist.
You may also need to consider that you might need some assistance and that a parenting course might be of assistance and arm you with ways to handle parenting moments.
Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
Triple P is an internationally acclaimed parenting program that is offered free to all Queensland parents and carers of children up to 16 years of age. TRIPLE P is considered one of the world’s best because it has been scientifically shown to work and because it’s already helped more than four million children and their families in more than 25 countries.
You’re best able to help your child with their emotions when you’re calm yourself. Remember that your children are going to continue with unacceptable behaviour if you allow it. Once things are calm sometime later, it’s important to have closure of what just happened. Talk it thought at a later time and put it to rest.
I do wish to add that it’s not appropriate to tell your partner and then they re-hash the argument If it’s important, talk to your partner about it after your child is in bed. It happened on your watch and you have worked through it.
Being a parent is one of the most challenging things you can do.
If you need help or a moment to yourself, then ask for it.