It was a quiet family afternoon, but then the I started to hear the grumbles....
Her play purse wouldn't close because it had too many plastic princesses in it - and as much as I tried to explain that it might close if we take one or two "dolls out," she didn't seem to listen to me.
Then it happened..... First her fists started to clench, then her face became bright red.. and then... the high pitched screaming at the top of her lungs...
What are you supposed to do now?
Most parents say: “I try to talk to them, to encourage them to stop.” Sadly, this approach doesn’t work often. Your child isn't ignoring you on purpose, they really are engulfed in their feelings, they don’t hear a word that you are saying.
When you watch your child instantly transform from happy to upset (in a matter if seconds), it isn’t because they are unstable monsters.
Children aren’t born knowing how to calm down or problem solve. They depend on life experiences and adults (with loads of patience) to teach these skills to them.
How are we supposed to do this, when they won't listen?
3 Steps to avoiding tantrums:
Step 1) Show your child how to respond to their feelings.
Robert Plutchick, a professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, identified more than 90 different emotions!
Young children react when they feel their body start to “fume." Reactions don’t involve thinking about WHY they feel the way they feel.
This is why you see young children throwing objects (that they are frustrated with), hitting the toddler sitting next to them (because they are in their space) or kicking at mom when she is trying to hard to get her to sit still in the car seat (even though the child doesn’t want to go anywhere).
So what is the answer?
Give children hands-on ways to calm down. Fill a box filled with sensory objects to give to your child so they can use them on their own, independently.
How does my child know how to use these items?
Talking to children while they are “fuming” doesn’t work. The key is to teach your child how to use these items before they become upset or overwhelmed.
Children learn best with objects that are visually appealing and tangible (objects they can hold.) The Soothing Sammy story teaches children calm down skills in a ways that is easy for them to remember and implement in times of stress.
Step 2) Encourage your child to use words or gestures to Communicate their feelings.
Once your child is calm, ask them how they are feeling and why they are upset. With over 90 different feelings/emotions, it is hard for children to put those feelings into words.
How you can help?
Children learn best through active learning meaning that they learn best when they are participating in a hands-on way. Throughout the day, talk about different feelings with your child. Ask them to look in the mirror and make different faces that match their feelings. Can they identify your feelings by the faces you make?
The Soothing Sammy Program includes playful games that teach children how to identify a variety of emotions. These activities teach feelings vocabulary and how to identify feelings in themselves and others.
Step 3) Assist your child in Solving the Problem.
Now that you and your child are both calm, you can help each other solve the problem, after all, two minds are better then one!
Ask your child how they think they can fix the problem. In Starla's case, taking out two dolls may help her purse close.
Or if your child is mad that another child is sitting too close, they can move away for a bit.
Following these 3 steps will not only prevent your child from tantrumming or having meltdowns, but it will also teach them how to handle their feelings in a productive way.
If you are looking for a simple way to teach your child these calm down strategies, check out Soothing Sammy! It’s a great program for all ages!
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