Consider the following story as it relates to this week’s topic.
Last night, Susan and I went to the movies with my sister, Stella, and her 8-year old son, Anthony. I’m not a fan of bringing young kids to evening movies where there are mostly adults in the audience. See, the last thing I wanted to do was ignite an argument with Susan, so I didn’t say anything. As I feared, just as the movie started, Anthony started to fall apart. He began crying loudly about it being too dark and then crawled under the seats, upending our crazy expensive bucket of popcorn and disturbing the folks behind us. The more Susan shushed him, the louder he became until he was hysterical and practically screeching. The movie was only about ten minutes in when Stella and Anthony made their getaway. Susan says I have little patience for young kids, especially those who aren’t well behaved. However, even she admits that bringing Anthony to an evening movie was way too much. I feel bad for my sister, though, and my big question is how can she (or we) avoid these huge outbursts?
Sure, your little one is just a kid, but it doesn’t mean you should dismiss his/her feelings. Click To TweetChildren and crying go hand-in-hand. That’s just the way it is. They may cry when they hurt themselves, when you get after them and even when you reject their request for something. It’s expected for young kids to throw tantrums in these situations.
However, some kids have a very difficult time calming down and taking control of their emotions. This can cause many issues for your child and those around them. Our Tampa therapists and counselors want to show you some ways to help your child stay calm in these types of situations.
What We’re Dealing With
The art of calming down when a tantrum approaches is actually a very teachable skill. Click To TweetThe art of calming down when a tantrum approaches is actually a very teachable skill. But before starting, it’s important to understand where your child is coming from. Some children have more intense emotions and bigger reactions than other kids. This makes it harder for them to control their behavior. It may also be harder and take longer for them to calm down after.
When a child becomes overwhelmed by their feelings, the emotional side of the brain ceases to communicate with the rational side. When it’s engaged and working effectively, this rational side helps regulate emotions and can formulate ways to manage the situation. This imbalance makes reasoning with a child during their tantrum ineffective. This means you’ll have to wait until the child becomes rational again to discuss their outburst.
Possible Steps to Take
Since children are different from adults (thinking-wise), helping them calm down can be tough. Click To TweetSince children are different from adults (thinking-wise), helping them calm down can be tough. However, there are some simple rules they can follow to help them train their “calm down skill”:
- Understanding Emotions – Emotions don’t explode into a tantrum out of nowhere. They usually build over time. Therefore, it’s important for kids to identify their feelings before they boil over. Keep in mind that identifying feelings like sadness, anger, etc. and controlling them doesn’t mean they should be considered bad emotions.
- Validate Their Feelings – Sure, your little one is just a kid, but it doesn’t mean you should dismiss his/her feelings. Instead, learn to validate their emotions by paying attention and understanding where they’re coming from. This can help alleviate explosive behavior. Label them and take a guess. It’s okay if you’re wrong because your child will let you know if he/she is feeling differently from what you’ve guessed.
- Ignore Unwanted Behavior – Validation may be important, but you must avoid giving attention to negative behavior. This includes whining, talking back and even using bad language. Keep in mind that this process will only be effective when you give your child attention once he/she stops the behavior you don’t want to see.
- Effective Attention – Attention is key to helping your child hone his/her skills, but you have to ensure that it’s genuine. If your child is acting out and suddenly closes his/her eyes to try and remain calm, you should praise them for it.
- Revisit the Issue – Most of us will avoid bringing up any uncomfortable situations after they’ve passed. However, it’s important to do the opposite with your child’s tantrums. If your child throws a tantrum, revisit the event and ensure they know what outcomes may have resulted if they decided to react differently.
Visit Our Tampa Therapists and Counselors Today
At Rice Psychology Group, we understand that you’d do anything for your kids, which is why we’re always ready to help. Whether they need help in understanding how they can remain calm when their emotions get the better of them, or if you need advice on how to handle those specific situations, then we want to help. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact our Tampa therapists and counselors today.