This blog is for Moms and Dads who have limited time and need quick parenting tips.

01 September 2010

Toddler Tantrums - A little Story About Connecting with Emotions

I am talking about the under 3 year age group here and definitely not little babies. The bullets will come latter as I want you to read the story!

So here is how things usually went at out house with our 3 year old Diva. I would hear blood curdling cries from the Diva and run to see what limb had been cut off. A quick check for blood and I am asking "what's wrong?", "Are you hurt?". Diva continues to cry so hysterically that she can't answer. I calming keep asking her to tell me "why are you crying?". After 20 minutes of this (I kid you not), I am yelling at her to stop crying and go to her room until her tantrum is finished. She does this and cries for another 1/2 hour.  I am still listening to this feeling both stressed and frustrated - and extremely mad!

The light goes on in my head. Diva has just seen my tantrum - everything I have just asked her not to do, I just did.  So, my new approach - hug and gently say words to reflect how she might be feeling.  Things like:  "Oh you are really upset. You are really crying hard and can't talk. You must be so sad". It is mentally hard for me to make the switch in my head as my stress levels go up the instant I hear the hysterical crying - it is an effort for me to calm down and really try to connect emotionally with her - as opposed to stopping the offending behavior.  And yes, it actually works faster, with both of us feeling a lot less stressed.

Oh - and her twin brother is normally standing nearby with a guilty look on his face.

So tips if you have an emotional diva:
  • Try to connect with emotions.  Reflect what feelings they are expressing.  Focus on understanding her emotion.
  • Get down low and give a hug.
  • Calm yourself down - this is really hard but try to think of a mental image of your child that always makes you happy.
  • Talk about what happened when they are calm. 
  • Introduce new behaviors to deal with frustration or whatever sets your Diva off - I have told mine to come and ask for a hug when she is getting mad.
So the tantrums will no doubt continue for a long time, but I am in control of how I am going to react and I am not going to be that yelling, screaming mother.

PS - I am reading a great book which is helping me with this: "Ten Days to a Less Defiant Child" by Jeffery Bernstein.

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