I was blessed with two happy, healthy children, my daughter Lydia (almost 5) and my son Bryce (almost 3). Lydia is the sweetest, most gentle little girl and Bryce is a hilarious, rough-and-tumble little boy. They could not be more different, which really means one thing: they fight all day long. Dealing with
tantrums is a challenge! Bryce gets way too over-stimulated sometimes and acts like a crazy toddler boy while Lydia is so sensitive and takes everything very personally. As a teacher turned work-at-home mom, my patience is constantly tested when Bryce is being destructive and Lydia is emotional. One promise I made to myself that I intend to keep is to not hit my children. If I have to lay a hand on my child, it means that I have run out of all options and lost control of myself. Here are some ideas to remain calm in even the most stressful situations.
1. Make sure everyone is safe. If your children are making a huge mess, screaming, fussing, but no one is actually injured — It’s okay. Messes can be cleaned and loud noises happen. You do not have to get involved each time your child tantrums. Address the situation once your child has calmed down. And if you have a partner who is available to assist, call in back-up.
2. If your child is being oppositional you feel your blood pressure rising, step away. One time my daughter started throwing materials everywhere as soon as I told her to assist me with clean-up. I was aggravated and left the room. I stretched, took deep breaths, and was ready to re-address the situation. It’s okay to step away and refocus.
3. Analyze the situation. Why is your child tantruming? Children tend to tantrum more when a sensory need is not being met. Is he sleepy? Hungry? Thirsty? Check first to make sure all his sensory needs are being met, and if they aren’t, that may be an easy way to calm your child.
4. Be appreciative. When I feel stressed and overwhelmed because both kids are upset, I try to stop for a moment and reflect. What do I have to be appreciative of? Is this really a huge deal or is this something that will quickly end? Overall, are my kids happy and healthy? Then I have a lot to be thankful for!
5. Redirect. If your child is engaged in an activity that is over-stimulating or unstructured, leading to inappropriate behaviors, redirect your child’s attention to something else. Pull together an art activity, grab a book to read, run around together in the backyard, or put on your child’s favorite movie. Children should be engaged in a variety of
structured and unstructured activities throughout the day, so if something isn’t working, change it!
As parents, we will make mistakes. That is inevitable. We will become overly agitated or too stressed, and we may even display those emotions to our children. However, we must find a way to remain calm when dealing with tantrums so we can support our children’s needs.