Tantrums and managing emotions
Tantrums- A word that evokes a range of feelings in parents- irritation, anger, fear, embarrassment…When our child starts losing it we think, “Oh no, not again. I hate to have to deal with this!!”Our children's tantrums leave us feeling so helpless and often wanting to throw a tantrum of our own.
Tantrums are an expression of strong feelings, and that does not make it a bad. It’s good that our child feels comfortable enough to express her emotions.So could we look at tantrums as opportunities to connect with our children and help them learn to handle feelings?
Our first step is to understand what's going on in our little toddler or our teenager’s brain. Children’s brains are a work in progress, the younger they are, the less control they have over their emotions. They don't throw tantrums because they want to make our lives difficult or to manipulate us but simply because they are hijacked by their own emotions. They are overwhelmed with feelings and therefore cannot think straight or be logical.
Tantrums are a cry for help!!!
Much as we would like to scream too this would simply not help us or our children. We are the adults here. We could take a few deep breaths and then reach out to help our children express their feelings in safe and healthy ways. And not make them feel bad for expressing their feelings as long as they are not hurting anyone. Helping our children is not about “giving in” but about connecting with what our child is going through and getting to know more about what is going on with our children.
What we can do?
To hold our child close if possible. Accept and acknowledge his feelings. We do not have to give him what he wants. If we need to say “no” we can be firm and gentle and be there for him. This way we become their emotional coaches. We are showing them how to deal with strong feelings like anger, disappointment, sadness etc.
The same approach of connecting with feelings works at all ages. When children are shown how to cope with their feelings from a young age they develop emotional intelligence and grow to be adults who can respond maturely to their own and other people's feelings.
Brain Fact - Tantrums happen because essential brain pathways between a child's higher brain (decision-making or logical centre of the brain) and his lower brain (the alarm centre of the brain) haven't developed yet
To hear more about how we can help our children through tantrums which are nothing but strong feelings, while building their emotional intelligence click here to listen to the recording of the show which was aired on Chennai Live 104.8 FM on November 27th, 2015.