Every parent has gone through it, or inevitably will: The tantrum. Yes, children throw tantrums, and it’s a normal part of growing up!
Our little ones have so many new emotions to process, and they often lack the tools to express or communicate them properly. Instead, their feelings come out in balls of fury or distress, and it’s the job of their parents to diffuse the situation effectively.
So, how is it done? The following ten tips offer straightforward approaches to bad behavior, which you can apply in any situation. Parents can write these down and keep them in their back pocket for those surprise outbursts we all know and love.
1. Counting to Ten
When a child is upset, they can have a tough time finding a way to calm down. Telling your child to count to 10 can help them to become more aware of their surroundings, as well as their breathing.
If they’re agitated, you might tell them to do this a couple of times before they can have a meaningful conversation about their emotions.
2. Breathing in Deeply
As adults, breathing exercises can help us to feel more in control and more positive. So, why wouldn’t it work for children?
Deep breaths can be very relaxing for children, and also helps to slow their heart rate. If you’re noticing that your child is starting to get worked up and heated, jump at the opportunity to calm their heart rate.
Breathe alongside your child if it helps them to practice a balanced breathing routine.
3. Using Their Hands
Even during the most aggressive of tantrums, the act of breathing is invaluable. To add to that practice, you can also encourage your children to blow into their hands, softly and slowly.
The act makes the children more aware of their breath and gives them some feedback about what they’re doing. Whether they’re in the grocery store, at the mall, or in the car, they can easily practice their hand-blowing technique when they’re beginning to feel like they’ve lost control.
4. Hiding Their Hands
Alternatively, some children struggle with physical aggression when they’re upset. In these cases, holding out their hands isn’t always the best solution to the problem.
For these children, parents might suggest having the child sit on their hands or put their hands in their pockets. In these instances, the child puts away their most dangerous weapon, and can instead focus on speaking with their parent or doing a breathing exercise.
5. Removing Body Tension
Another body-awareness practice that can help with outbursts is the act of clenching the hands in fists, then releasing them.
This is also a good option for those children who tend to turn to physical aggression when they’re upset. Instead of swinging or punching, they are instead encouraged to slowly clench the fists, then experience the muscle relaxation as they release them.
It’s a physical feedback approach that stops children from focusing on their anger, and instead gives them something quiet and calming to zero in on.
6. Checking Head-to-Toe
During meditation, listeners are often encouraged to do a ‘body scam’ of themselves from head-to-toe. This practice requires them to become aware of the state their body is in and to release any muscle tension they’re feeling.
For children, this can be a fun way for children to divert their attention from their anger and harness that energy into a body scan.
Use vocal cues to help them work their way from the top of their head to the tips of their toes. Let them explain how they’re feeling in each part and where they might feel discomfort. Encourage them to relax their muscles and “heal” their bodies with their own powers.
7. Hugs for Everyone
Kids might not say it, but one of the things they are often longing for most during a tantrum is some good old-fashioned love.
It might seem too simple, but children are simple beings! They need very few things and thrive off of love and affection. Even if you’re at your breaking point, by hugging your child, you might create calmness for both of you.
If you’d like, you can give them time to do a few of the exercises mentioned, and then finish with a hug and let them know you’re proud of them.
8. Play Music
Music can be very relaxing and therapeutic for children, and it often helps them to exert some energy and forget about their worries. Play one of their favorite songs, or encourage them to sing something with you if you’re not near any music.
Parents might also download some of their child’s favorite songs on their phone, so they always have them in a pinch.
9. Count as High as You Can
Giving children a task can help them to calm down from their tantrums, but it should be something that requires them to focus and put in the effort.
If your child is struggling to calm down, ask them to count as high as they can. This can be a fun activity for them to show off their knowledge, and you can cheer for them as they go.
If they’re a bit older, ask them to do some math problems, or get them to spell words with you. This can be done anywhere you go and quickly changes their thought path.
If your child is dehydrated, they may be struggling with mental performance. In some cases, this can lead to their breakdown in proper behavior and thoughts.
As a parent, it’s essential to always have water with you for your kids; this is especially true if they do struggle with tantrums. Tell them to drink the water slowly, and to count how many sips they take.
The activity can help to divert their focus and get them that well-needed hydration they’ve been unknowingly asking for.
There is Always Hope
No matter how bad their tantrums get, there are lots of things you can do to try and ease their discomfort. Try out a few of these tactics, or use them in combination to get the right effect.
Remember, every child is different, so what might calm down one child may do nothing for another. Keep an open mind, and give them all a try to find the solution that works best for your family.