In part one & two we learned that:
1) Tantrums are normal and have a purpose
2) Tantrums can only be moved through in an environment of safety.
Tackling tantrums is NOT about stopping them. Emotions that aren't felt stay in the body. (And yes, that is actual science!) We have to keep the perspective that this is a storm and the storm will always pass. <3 We can remind our children of this too! (More on that in a moment.) Experience safety in that storm is what wires a child's brain to become truly resilient.
Here are 4 different strategies you can use to support your kiddo in the middle of the storm!
1) Engage their "Thoughtfulness"
If they aren't too far into dysregulation, sometimes just posing a question that engages their curiosity and thinking brain is enough to get their thinking brain back online and begin problem solving. This is ideal for a "whiny" stage!
You could say "hey, kiddo, was that a robin outside?"
This is NOT to distract them. This is NOT out of desperation. This is a skillfully implemented tool to support your child who is slipping into a spiral, done with compassion and intention.
2) Engage their "Playfulness"
This is a great strategy for when they are getting a bit deeper into dysregulation but are not too far gone. Try getting some giggles out! This engages their sense of safety, connection and belonging.
You can try making an inanimate object talk! Trouble getting them dressed? Their socks could be really hungry for some tasty toes! They just threw a toy at the wall? The toy starts crying HYSTERICALLY (and comically).
Again, this isn't about distraction or shaming. This is about goofy, silly play that creates levity and warmth.
#3) Engage their "Softness"
Sometimes are kids are too far down the ladder to come back with curiosity and play. Then we can give them a sense that we are with them and we understand their pain and frustration. Dig deep to a place where you can say "It makes sense!" And watch as their mad melts to sad. Their fire and tough edge smooth to a warm, gooey puddle of acceptance and grief. When this happens you know the storm is on it's way out.
Snuggle, place a hand on them, give them a comfort item. You know your kiddo. What would open their little heart up? This is also where you can explain to *them* that they are in a storm right now! And these big feelings are scary and overwhelming! But storms always pass. Describe to them how you can see the they are calming. Reassure them that the thunder is gone and its just a gentle rain now.
#4) Create a container
There are times where none of the above "work". Where we provide all the support we can but that storm is raging despite our best efforts to soothe. This is when we offer protection. We create a safe container for our kids to be where they at. Maybe they are thrashing or hitting or screaming. We can create a place where it is safe from them to do so.
This is about protecting our children, not our ego. We aren't trying to hide them away or make them feel bad. We can create safety for them to be where they are until their bodies calm down.
You can stay as close as is safe and provide reassurance in a way that is safe for them and you. Words like "I love you, buddy. I am here for you. I know this is hard." Or even just your presence in the door way with body language that communicates that you are there for them.
I hope that gave you some hope and practical advice!
Until next time,