OK In Health - Parenting Tips

Temper Tantrum Relief! - February 2019

So what can we do to ward off tantrums?

By Maggie Reigh, Kelowna, BC

toddler having a temper tantrum and cryingTemper tantrums!  What an experience - the high pitched screaming, the flailing arms, the multitudinous tears – and worst of all, the embarrassment and helplessness of not knowing what to do! Temper tantrums disrupt the entire family – keeping everyone tense and uptight trying to avoid the inevitable. Then when it hits it often sets off a series of explosions rippling through the entire home. So what can we do to ward off tantrums and how can we effectively handle them when they do hit? 

 Let’s take a typical temper tantrum scene – the one that occurs right there in the middle of the department store with a thousand pairs of eyes looking on!  The immediate impulse is often to rush over to the child, tower over them and “whisper” desperately, “STOP it!  Stop it do you hear! Right noooooowwwwww!”   

Now this is likely to do nothing but further ignite the child’s tantrum and increase the screaming, which often sets parents into even more of a panic… we then increase the intensity of our pleas and commands to stop… and the child responds to the increased intensity by becoming more intense themselves!  Wow!  I get worked up just writing about the scene!  Obviously, that doesn’t work.  Hiding around the corner and pretending the child is someone else’s may momentarily ease your embarrassment, but often does little to help the child and if the child realizes they can’t see you the panic and intensity will increase.  

So what can you do?  A key principal is to stop focusing on what you will make your child do and focus on what you will do.

 Too often we try to control our child’s behaviour when it is the emotions that drive the behaviour that are out of control. Think about how you respond when someone screams at you to calm down.  Do you?  Your behaviour will truly only shift to calm when you feel calm.  So the real question is how can you help your child calm down and shift their emotions?

First, calm down yourself.  Realize that your child responds to the vibrations that you are sending to her, not to your words or commands.    She mirrors your emotions, so if you send panic her tantrum will only increase.  So collect yourself – breathe deeply, and find that space of peace and calm inside yourself.  Now this takes practice, so practice it right now – before temper tantrums erupt.  

 Even as you read this, breathe as if you are breathing through your heart and know that this technique has been scientifically proven (Heartmath Institute) to not only stabilize your heart rate and take you to inner peace and calm, but to align every system in your body, bringing it to optimum functioning.  Your brain goes into fight or flight mode when your heart rate goes over ninety. Bringing down your heart rate through this breathing technique helps you to think more clearly and to send a vibration of calmness to your child. As you decide what you will do focus on picking your child up and using your breath to stay calm and send love and calmness to her.  

Realize that she is not throwing this tantrum just to annoy you, but because she is emotionally in pain and out of control.  Be curious about what has created that pain… is she just too tired to shop anymore?  Is she feeling ignored and unloved? Stop judging her and yourself and become curious about what’s going on for her. Put yourself in her position as you carry her to the car and you will have a better idea of what she really needs – rest, sleep, love? 
 
This principle of sending peace and calm to my screaming three year old is what saved my sanity when my children were small.  Recently I received a letter from a grateful parent who also found it remarkably helpful.  I am including her letter here so that you can see how it can work and how powerful it can be for you:  

The day my second daughter was born I found out what a ‘difficult child’ was all about.  I admit I quickly helped create the little ‘monster’, by caving to her every demand to try to keep the peace in our house.  When she was two, life in our home was spiralling out of control.  The tantrums were happening 10 – 15 times per day and they were outrageous.  I had never seen a child scream, flail, kick, hit, and literally climb a wall like she did. Her tantrums were lasting up to and sometimes longer than an hour. I tried everything I could think of:  I locked her in her room, I yelled,   I threatened,   I bribed.  I even spanked her little bottom once!  I cried then too!  The more I reacted, the worse the behaviour got.

Then, I discovered Maggie Reigh’s Temper Tantrum Kit. Now I was ready and I just waited for the next tantrum. Later that evening my ‘difficult child’ became angry, frustrated and completely out of control. I calmly took her to her room, sat down on the floor, held my head high, relaxed my body and breathed from my heart centre – in and out, in and out. Within 10 minutes, she stopped the tantrum, came over to me, sat on my lap and hugged me.  I hugged her back and breathed a sigh of relief.  I was truly shocked!

My oldest daughter was anxious due to the chaos and high-stress in our home. Maggie suggested that I read Wee Bree & the Grand Shopping Spree (the children’s book included in the kit) to her and allow her to talk about how her sister’s behaviour was affecting her.  I was relieved when she opened up and clearly expressed just that. We had a great conversation and were able to brainstorm ways for her to cope.

Life in our home these days is not perfect, but the tantrums have decreased immensely – both in frequency and intensity. My youngest has learned to self-regulate herself, and I have learned to remain calm and loving when she can’t.  My oldest has learned ways of coping and feels safe to express herself when needed.

If you can remember that your children are not here to drive you crazy , but to drive you to your center, life is so much easier.  Breathe deeply, love freely, and keep smiling!


Maggie ReighMaggie's Bio: Maggie Reigh is an international speaker, playshop facilitator, and storyteller, as well as a certified hypnotherapist. She is the author of the book and program series '9 Ways to Bring Out the Best in You & Your Child', and of the family activity package, 'Taking the Terror Out of Temper Tantrums'. Maggie specializes in helping people to release deeply embedded thought and behavior patterns that no longer work so that they can create joyful, positive, and meaningful relationships with self and others. Contact Maggie through her website. Lake Country BC - Maggie Reigh Website - Email


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