Keeping it together when your child is losing their mind is so important. Yet as any parent will tell you it is so hard to do at times. We all need a little self-regulation check. People with good self-regulation have the ability to feel their emotions and keep them in check. Choosing a healthy way to respond is essential. Children tend to mirror our reactions. In the midst of your child’s tantrum here are some tips to stay calm and handle the situation without losing your cool. These tips will also help you model good self-regulation for your child.
- Breathe – This sounds so cliche, but it is so important. While you take a deep belly breath say to yourself “I am calm” “I got this”. These actions cue your parasympathetic nervous system (which is what keeps you calm). You need to do it a few times in a row.
- Safety First – If your child is doing something that could hurt himself or hurt others quickly spring into action to make sure everyone is safe.
- Mirror and Validate – Instead of yelling and lecturing your child, try mirroring and validating first. “That made you mad when I said you couldn’t have another lollipop.”
- Avoid Reasoning – Trying to reason or negotiate with a child in the midst of a tantrum is like trying to negotiate with a tiny terrorist. Save yourself the frustration and avoid it all together.
- Less talk, more action – Here is the hard part! State the limit 1x only. That’s it. No need for a lengthy explanation as to why. “I can’t let you kick me”, said as you are moving the child away from you. “Screen time is over”, said as you turn off the Wi-Fi.
- Stay Close – The idea is that you want to let the child express their feelings (as long as they are not hurting themselves or others) but you also want them to know that you are still there. We want to teach our children that it is okay to feel ALL of their feelings and that we, as their parent, can handle ALL of their feelings too.
- Reconnect – Once your child is done having a tantrum and they are calm, hug them and tell them how much you love them. Shaming and punishing children actually reinforces bad behaviors and can lead to higher rates of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. People should not be ashamed or punished. Reconnect with your child so they know it is ok and we are not still mad at them.
If your child is having a difficult time with their self-regulation, contact Kidz Therapy Zone for an evaluation.