Sometimes, it’s something tiny. Sometimes, it’s a little bigger. But one of the missions of Davis INC. is the management and prevention of the tantrum. Now, I know that tantrums are quite normal, especially at the toddler/preschool age. But in our home, it has turned into a regular day-to-day occurrence; one that I have to constantly monitor for and in turn, appropriately respond to in order to help prevent the same thing from happening the next day. See the key words here are “help prevent.”
One of my mantras that often help me deal with these sometimes unbearable situations is to remember to respond, not react- a task not easily done, may I add. Some of these strategies I’ve learned from teachers, some from therapists, and some from just knowing what my kids will respond to. Call it mother’s intuition. We can’t really ever prevent tantrums, but there are some great ways to help us, and more importantly, our kids, learn to better respond to those stressers that are often at the root.
- Counting: This is probably the most widely used technique that parents use when trying to reel their child back in from a tantrum, or from behaviors that might lead to one. But I’ve found that this only works like 50% of the time for us. So I have started teaching the kiddos to count down from 10 on their own, taking a deep breath with every number. By the time they get to one, they should be calmer and a little more ready to focus.
- Ask for a break: This is can difficult, especially in the middle of a task that needs to be completed. But even just a little 5 minute break can do wonders for avoiding that melt-down. Supplying stress balls, or other manipulative items during the break can be helpful too. We also enjoy leaving the environment and going on outdoor walks. Fresh air can do wonders!
- Wash yo’ face: Whenever I would get upset and hyperventilate as a young child, my mom always told me to wash my face. I never understood why at the time. But there is something about water that is relaxing and soothing, hence hydrotherapy. Asking your child to splash some cool water onto their face whenever they feel frustrated or overwhelmed can help soothe the muscles in their face, helping them to feel more relaxed overall. A more relaxed child won’t tantrum… he or she just won’t!
- Tap your face: Notice I did not say slap or hit. The finger tapping method is one that my daughter’s therapist taught her during one of her sessions last year. She encouraged her to use it whenever she feels like she’s about to get frustrated. At the onset of the emotion, she is to use two fingers and tap both sides of her temples, her forehead, underneath her eyes, her jaw line, her neck, and her chest twice. This is supposed to help calm the nerves and redirect attention and focus. We use this all the time and it works very well for us.
- Ask for help: This might seem like a simple solution, but in reality this can be the hardest thing of all. Some of us grow up with the belief that asking for help signals weakness or an unwillingness to try something. This can’t be further from the truth. Asking for help takes a lot of courage sometimes and when we encourage our children to use their words or other means of communication to simply ask for help, we are teaching them to acknowledge when they are experiencing difficulty and to identify possible triggers that might lead to an tantrum or meltdown. It also develops a relationship between parent and child based on trust and dependability.
What are some of your favorite calm-down strategies? Did I miss something on my list? Let me know in the comments! Wishing you a loving and peaceful household!