How to handle a temper tantrum?

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Toddlers can get pretty difficult at times. They do not always pick the time for a tantrum very thoughtfully either. A child can have a tantrum during quiet time, when crossing the road, at the checkout, or while dressing up.

No matter what happens and where, there are theories and constructive guidelines on how to handle those situations in a positive and brain-friendly way.

Neuropsychiatrist Dr. Daniel J. Siegel explains that it is the child's undeveloped brain that is the reason for those tantrums and there is nothing the young child can do to avoid that reaction to an overwhelming situation.

Parts of the brain are still developing until the mid-twenties, so no wonder small children cannot manage their every emotion and act 'properly'!! The adult's job is to calm, guide, and help the child to understand his reactions and discuss them through.

Dr. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson introduce 12 key strategies in their book
The Whole-Brain Child to cope with temper tantrums. Here is the first half:
  1. Name It to Tame It: Try to discuss, reason, name emotions, and go through the difficult situations by wording them to calm down emotional storms and bodily tension.
  2. Engage, Don't Enrage: Try to keep the child focused on thinking and listening, instead of purely reacting.
  3. Move It or Lose It: Use physical activities and movement to shift the child's emotional state.
  4. Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll By: Let children understand, that emotions come and go. For example, anger floats away as storm clouds do too.
  5. SIFT: Help children pay attention to their Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts so that they can make better decisions and be more flexible in their actions.
  6. Connect Through Conflict: Use discord to encourage empathy and greater social success.

The examples and explanations of The Whole-Brain Child help educators and parents alike to grow emotionally healthy and happy children. Children that can live a balanced and connected life and understand their (and their peers') reactions, actions, and emotions.

Handling tantrums and challenging behavior is never easy. I hope this book tip gives some new ideas and usable techniques. The main point always is to stay calm and handle the adult part as grown-ups should. Discuss, word, and talk the child through it. Let the child show all the emotions she needs to express at that moment.

If a child is very little, singing a familiar lullaby might help to calm her down. Talking even to the little ones is anyway good, no child should be left alone with big and difficult emotions. Children need the help of us adults to handle those overwhelming things and tame their big emotions bogeys.

Take care!