Imagine this, you’re in the mall rushing to find the nearest restaurant to have your late lunch, grocery bags in one hand and your child’s hand in the other. First, you hear stomping feet and a little resistance as you tug your child’s hand to line up at the restaurant. Then she lets out a loud scream that eventually turns into a cry of protest. Your feet are tired, your stomach is grumbling, you’re exhausted thinking about all the things on your list of errands, and a tantrum is just NOT what you need right now. People are starting to stare at you making you feel like you’re a very bad mom. What do you do?
Take a deep breath. Aaaaaah. When we are faced with these challenging situations whether it be an argument with your husband, with your colleague at work or your little boss (a.k.a your child!), I tell my coaching clients or workshop participants that they have the power to choose whether to react or to respond. When we react, we simply take action based on what initially comes to our mind, based on impulse or what we’re used to. And sometimes our reaction would include yelling back and saying things we’d regret later on. When we respond though, we take time to briefly pause, process our thoughts and be more intentional about our actions.
According to Li Tayag, of Present Parenting Solutions, it is important that in this seemingly helpless situation, you must believe that you are in charge… then you take charge. Remain calm and clear your mind. Get into your child’s zone, crouch if you have to, and most importantly, stay away from danger. Acknowledge that he or she is having a difficult time. Li also suggests that waiting it out also helps in some situations. This means you address the emotions first before the behavior.
“Handling a tantrum is an art, which takes a lot of patience, practice, and ups and downs before perfected. And because every issue is unique, and there are too many strategies to remember, and you are still trying to figure out how to approach your child, it is okay if we don’t make it work all the time. If you find it hard, forget everything else except for this one: GET DOWN THERE, below the eye- level of your child.” (Calm Down & Get Down There, Present Parenting Solutions)
As a pro-active measure, awareness of our children’s triggers and our own also helps us better deal with this type of situations. In another article by Present Parenting Solutions, we must ask ourselves certain questions to raise our awareness.
- Is this behavior just a phase? Is my child going through something right now, or does he maybe need attention? Is he overstimulated that’s why he is having a hard time to listen?
- Did I give warnings? Or too many warnings without any follow-up? Or did I just snap and am I about to lose it?
- Do the words I’m about to use reflect my frustration or anger? Or can I consciously, sincerely offer help and say that I’m here as he goes through his big emotions?
- Can I wait patiently and talk to him when he’s all calm and ready to listen?
It’s not easy dear parents! But as we keep practicing, we eventually get to know not just our children, but also ourselves even better and consequently improve our ways in dealing with tantrums and meltdowns.
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