Screaming, wailing, turning red and gasping for breath – otherwise known a tantrum. We’ve all been there. The locations may vary… some may be in the privacy of our own homes, some may occur while visiting family, other times they decide to spread the love with the entire population of the bread aisle in Tesco.
Oh, and the reasons can vary too. From you saying no to them having a bag of sweets, to their sandwiches being cut in squares when they wanted triangles (they hated triangles yesterday) and not being allowed to play with the bottle of bubbly you’ve just put in the trolley for a birthday gift. There is just no way of knowing. So, what do you do? While sometimes you may feel like wailing along with them, there are things you can try to calm them down. Here are a few ideas.
Keep yourself calm
Yep, easier said than done, particularly if you’re out in public. You’re probably experiencing feelings of humiliation, which can lead you to become angry and frustrated yourself. As hard as it may be, you need to try and stay calm – your agitation and stress will only heighten your child’s tension. You’re far more likely to be able to resolve the situation with a clear head.
Encourage them to breathe
Breathing is something a small person often forgets to do in the middle of a complete meltdown. Telling them to breathe often falls on deaf ears (mainly because the wailing noises are drowning out everything around you). Breathe at them, make funny faces while you breathe, hold your finger up and pretend it’s a birthday candle that they need to blow out. Put your hand on their tummy and tell them to see if they can breathe deep enough to make your hand move up and down. Once you have the breathing under control, you can start to work on the rest.
Turn the frown upside down
See if they can change their sad face to a happy one by demonstrating yourself. Tell them they can turn their frown upside down. Over exaggerate a frown, then a smile, frown, smile… make it a game – they’ll find it hard to resist joining in. Then praise them: “See, I knew you could turn your frown upside down!”
The angry ball
Ask them why they are angry/frustrated/upset. Tell them you can see an angry ball next to them, which needs to be thrown away. Demonstrate throwing the imaginary angry ball away – as hard as you can – and encourage them to do the same. This can help them to release some of their anger.
Leave them be
Sometimes, a child having a tantrum is just best left to it (location depending, of course). They may need to express their anger without intervention, and you may find they overcome their tantrum all by themselves.