Tag Archives: Tantrums

Learning to Love a Child’s Meltdowns

She sobbed heaving sobs into my chest as I wrapped my arms around her. Her strong emotions spilled out as her tears soaked my shirt. I held her for the longest time; saying nothing, just listening and holding space for her to communicate to me her inner-most thoughts through her upset.

A thought flashed through my mind in that moment about how much I love it when my children have a meltdown. I didn’t always but I have learned over the years that so much good can come from them if I am accepting of the feelings that surface and hear the messages in their screams.

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Being a Confident Leader: Setting Limits With Empathy

Being a confident leader is something that many of us grapple with everyday. Finding that balance between being the solid, dependable rock our children need us to be and still recognising, understanding and accepting the beautiful independent little people our children are becoming is not easy, especially when it comes to setting limits and providing boundaries for them.

Being a Confident Leader Continue reading

To Stay Home or Go Out? Making Mindful Decisions For Your Child

When we make the decision to provide an experience for our children that we feel will enrich their lives and bring them joy, happiness and fond memories, we really need to take a moment to stop and ask ourselves: Who is this experience for really? Is it more about satisfying our own need to see our children engaged in meaningful play? Do we seek to gain more from the experience than our children and if not, have we done everything we can to ensure they will not become too overwhelmed with the nature of the experience?

To Stay Home or Go Out? Making a Mindful Decision for Your Child ~ Peaceful parents, confident Kids Continue reading

Real Life Respectful Parenting: Working in Partnership to Get Through a Toddler Meltdown

Tonight I realised how lucky I am to a be a part of a great, respectful parenting partnership…

A Great Parenting Partnership ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids
It was dinner time and Lucy (3.5 years) was objecting to eating, which she often does. We have learned to let go of our eating expectations and are happy to offer a range of nutritious food throughout the day and let the children decide what they will eat and how much. We often calmly state to Lucy: “If you are not hungry, you do not have to eat your dinner.”

Tonight, however, she was clearly overtired and ironically I think, over-hungry. The meal was spaghetti bolognese which she has eaten many times before so the flavours were not the problem. She asked for milk, then water, then milk mixed with water, then just water again. This was a clear sign to us that she had some pent up emotion and needed to release it. Continue reading

Making it Through Witching Hour… Without Losing It!

Making it Through Witching Hour... Without Losing it! ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident KidsI often wonder what our neighbours think we are doing to our children as their screams echo around the walls of our house during the afternoon witching or arsenic hour as it is commonly known. As much as we thoroughly prepare for this time of the day, rarely are my children able to remain cool, calm or collected as we work towards the evening meal, bath and ultimately, bedtime. I have learned to let go of my worries about the neighbours. I know that as long as I am able to remain cool, calm and collected, my children’s emotional releases are healthy, normal and an important part of a toddler’s development.

In the past though, I would be on the phone to my husband every five minutes from about 4pm onwards, getting an update on his eta. I found the meltdowns difficult to handle and impossible to stay unruffled through. Now, I am finding a strength in my resolve to be confident, peaceful and firm during these times that I never thought I had in me. My eldest daughter put me through a pretty gruelling test recently when she melted down just before dinner. This is how I made it through unruffled.

The first and most important thing was that I was prepared. Staying calm is always hardest when you are taken off guard and caught by surprise. I knew this time was approaching, as I do everyday. I had made a batch of bolognaise sauce on the weekend which just needed heating so all I needed to do was to pop some spaghetti in some boiling water to cook. Dinner time is between 5:00 and 5:30 in our house (this is as early as we can make it usually) so as 4:30 approached and I heard intolerance build in my children’s interactions I decided to put the pot on the stove a little earlier than normal.

Sure enough, just as the water started boiling I had both children raiding the pantry for some cereal. Obviously, it was too close to dinner for more snacks so I had to get them through 10 -15 mins before I could have dinner on the table. Sending them away to play was not going to happen, so I set the timer for 10 minutes for the spaghetti to cook and gave the girls some wants nothing quality time. I took them to the lounge for some pre-dinner dancing. We turned on Pandora for some bopping music and danced together for about 5 minutes before the girls raided the puzzle drawer and settled in for some puzzle time on their own. I was able to duck away at this point to serve up the dinner and set it at the table all ready for the girls.

Tiredness overcame my eldest during dinner (as it often does). She asked for/ demanded some milk and I rephrased this for her, “May I have some milk please, Mum?” I gave her a small amount in a cup which she quickly gulped down. She whined “I want some moooore!”. I set an expectation that she eat her dinner before having more milk as I didn’t want her filling up on just milk. She repeatedly screamed for milk. Sitting by her, I acknowledged, “I hear you asking for some more milk. You may have some when you have eaten your dinner.” As her screams continued I validated her emotions “Wow! You are really upset that I am not giving you any milk. It can be hard to wait.” In my head I kept repeating to myself my mantra, “She needs me to be calm.”

She eventually calmed but wouldn’t eat. Instead she pushed the food around her plate and then eventually slid off her chair and underneath the table. I set the limit, “Lucy, you have left your chair. Are you telling me you are done with your dinner?” “NO!” came the reply as she scrambled back up. I reminded her: “I would like you to stay sitting on your chair for dinner. When you leave your chair, you are telling me you have had enough to eat so I will take your plate away.”

Lucy squirmed around on her chair for a while longer before climbing down again to retrieve a book from the bookshelf. I told her I could see she was done with her dinner and that I would remove her plate. She screamed and ran after me, clawing to have her plate back. I explained that she had left the table and her dinner was going away. I let her know it was bath time now and acknowledged, “You seem disappointed that you are not able to eat your dinner. After your bath you might feel a little more hungry and you could try again.” (I don’t always offer the eat later option but tonight I felt her emotions were getting in the way of her eating and that given some time to release these emotions, she may be able to eat more peacefully)

As I ran the waters for her bath I took some deep breaths and reminded myself how hard this was for her. I resolved to support her through it and calculated that I only had just over an hour until she would be soundly tucked up in bed and I would be able to have a much needed shower and cuppa in peace. I think of it like an hour until I clock off from work. This works for me at this time of day but I try not to count down from too early on or it can have the reverse effect!

Through Lucy’s bath, the testing behaviour continued. it was clear to me that a mixture of tiredness, hunger and possibly some pent up emotions were rendering her irrational. She asked for some blue colour in her bath which I happily obliged. However, as the blue drops landed in her bath and swirled out in spectacular patterns, she screamed, “No not blue, RED!!” I had not misheard her, she had changed her mind which is what she often does when her rational brain begins spiralling out of control. It is as though she wants to create an issue worthy of her spilling out her emotions.  This was a sure sign for me that she desperately needed help.

I acknowledged “You don’t want blue in the bath. You really want red. I can put some red in with the blue if you’d like?” But she wasn’t listening “GET THAT BLUE OUT!” Came the scream as she madly started scooping water out of the bath tub, all over the floor and me. Now soaking wet, I could feel my patience waning. I needed to get her out but I needed to do so respectfully. I blocked Lucy’s frantic hands from splashing the water and calmly explained that the water needed to stay in the bath and that I would help her by holding her hands. She fought and became very agitated with me, screaming at me to let go.

“I hear you asking me to let go. If you splash the water, you are telling me you are done having a bath and I will have to help you out.” As soon as I let go of her hands she splashed the water at me once more. I explained, “Bath time is over. I will now lift you out of the bath.” She needed me to take control and over her screams of protest I spoke to her (but really I spoke to myself). This was how I was going to stay calm. “You are tired and hungry. You are having a hard time making decisions so I am going to help you by taking charge. It is so hard for you in afternoons sometimes but I want you to know that I am here for you and I want to help you. I will keep you safe.”

Now I don’t know how much she took in but saying these things definitely allowed me to keep a compassionate, confident demeanour which is what she desperately needed. This would have given her a sense of relief in my ability to parent her even when the going got tough.

I wrapped her in a towel and carried her to her bedroom. Here she was in a safe space where we could both sit and she could freely express the emotions that were taking over her little body. It wasn’t long before her wails of anger turned to healing sobs as the cortisol flushing through her body dissipated. Finally these turned to relieved sniffles. She crawled into my lap and physically relaxed as I stroked her back and told her I loved her and would always do so. She became so still that I thought she was falling asleep right then and there but eventually a little voice squeaked, “I’m hungry. Could I please have my dinner now?” I replied, “Sure, let’s get dressed.” She willingly did so and then went to eat her dinner with her Father who had by then arrived home.

When she finished she announced that she would like to go to bed (an hour earlier than her usual 7:00 bed time) so we took her to bed and she drifted off happily as I read to her.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief as I put the kettle on and slumped into the lounge chair. I listened as my husband read stories to my youngest in her room and quietly praised myself for helping a child work through her despair with the kindness and empathy that I am starting to see reflected in her own behaviours more and more.

Tantrums and Meltdowns – My Tips For Staying Calm When the Kids Aren’t – Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

9 Best Ways to Stay (Mostly) Unruffled With Toddlers – Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

5 Tips For Staying Calm With Children – Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

 

 

 

Toddler Tantrum Therapy

Toddler Tantrum Therapy - Peaceful parents, Confident KidsTantrums in shopping centres are never good but much good can come of them. When a toddler tests limits it can be a sure sign they are in need of an emotional release. Time for some healing therapy.

We had one of these today. A big one. In the past, this was the type of tantrum that would result in me either losing it and joining in my toddler’s tantrum with my own screams and shouts or giving in to my toddler’s desire just to keep the peace and restore calm. But not today. Today I donned my Supermum cape to support my child through her strong feelings, ignoring the stares of onlookers and managing to calmly and confidently lead my child out of the centre and back to her own peaceful equilibrium.

We arrived at the shopping centre fairly early in the morning for the soul purpose of playing on the indoor play equipment. It has been recently set up for children five and under and consists of mostly soft play including a padded adventure climb, slide and a small immobile car with steering wheel.

The children adore playing here and there is often only two or three other families using it so it is never crowded and best of all it’s free. There are a number of rules sign posted which are fairly typical for the protection of both the children and the equipment. For a number of reasons I am a bit of a stickler for rules – 1. because I’m a teacher and 2. because I really appreciate having the use of this area and would like to see it preserved into the future so we can continue to enjoy it.

So I have always requested my children remove their shoes before playing (as per the rules) even though many other children do not. The girls had no problem taking off their shoes when we first arrived and even after a trip to the toilet and back again, there were no protests. But when we once again had to don our shoes for another toilet stop a relatively short time later, Penny was adamant her shoes were not coming back off.

I could kind of see her point. It must have seemed to her a waste of precious play time especially seeing she was not the one needing the toilet each time. But the rules remained and if she wanted to continue to play, she was going to need to remove them. Initially, she simply ignored the instruction and stepped into the play area. I restrained her gently and restated the expectation, “If you would like to play on the equipment you need to take your shoes off.”

She tried to wriggle free from me as her cries of protest began to escalate. I acknowledged, “You don’t want to take your shoes off again” and repeated, “I can’t let you go in there with your shoes on.” She fought hard and I carefully released my grip so she could have some space on the floor to voice her anger and frustration.

I stayed close by to let her know I heard her anguish and understood. She was not open to any words of comfort and eventually crawled under the table away from me and continued tantruming there.

I let her be. I stayed where I was and resolved to let it run its own course whilst keeping my eye on her older sister who was happily playing.

A short while later a ball rolled under the table to Penny which momentarily distracted her from her emotions. She crawled out with it and I asked her to hand it back to the small boy who had thrown it out of his pram. She did so willingly and then crawled back under the table to resume her cries. But the moment was lost by the distraction and she couldn’t get back to the intensity of the release she had been having previously.

I guessed that her emotional release had not been complete and predicted further upsets were abound so decided that now would be a good time to head home. I called to her sister, Lucy, that we would be leaving in five minutes and then explained to Penny we would be leaving soon and if she would like a quick play before we went she needed to do so now.

Having given up on her outburst she considered my proposal. She headed towards the play area slowly. She stopped at the entrance and looked at me, testing the limit to see if I had changed my mind about her shoes. I said, “You will need to take your shoes off to play in there.” She whinged but remained steady. She knew I would not change my mind on this limit and was weighing up the effectiveness of continuing the test. She took one more step inside and I repeated, “I won’t let you go in there with your shoes on.” She sat down and removed her shoes, seeking help when one got stuck.

She then made her way to where her sister was playing in the car whilst I collected her shoes and put them in the pram. Within 20 seconds I heard familiar shouts of anger and frustration. My children had come to blows. I looked over and saw Penny trying to push her way into the car whilst her sister remained steadfast in her seat.

They both screamed as they tried to assert themselves to each other. I moved over swiftly but calmly and used my arms and hands to block swipes and prevent pushes as I stated, “Lucy you are in the car and Penny wants to hop in with you. It seems like you are not finished yet.”

The screams escalated as Penny managed to manoeuvre herself onto the seat beside Lucy. I explained to the girls that if they couldn’t work it out we would need to go home now. The screams and pushes continued so I then said, “It seems too difficult for you to come to a solution so we will head home.”

With both children quite upset I made the decision to pick them up and take them to the pram. I placed Penny down whilst I buckled (a calming) Lucy in. Penny threw herself on the ground, where she resumed her earlier tantrum. I acknowledged, “I hear you are upset. We are going home now so I will place you in the pram.”

She fought me whilst I strapped her in and I continued to acknowledge, “You don’t want to be strapped in. You are having a really hard time and I need to get you home.” I ignored the stares of the onlookers and resisted the urge to give in to her request to walk. Given we had to walk the length of the shopping centre and through a car park, this would only result in further issues.

I pushed the pram with Penny screaming through the centre and out to the car park. Lucy was calm and collected so I helped her into her car seat first before pausing to decide how best to deal with Penny. I briefly thought about stopping and slowing down, giving Penny some time to get through her emotions before trying to put her in her seat. She’s a strong fighter and I knew how physically hard strapping her in would be with her being uncooperative. I decided against it.

While Lucy was currently ok, I knew her patience was not as resolved as mine and I could not expect her to sit in her seat indefinitely whilst I waited for Penny to come around. Besides, there was every chance that she would calm down only to be set off again once I required her to be in her seat.

So I steadied myself and moved confidently all the while talking Penny through the ordeal. “I am going to place you in your car seat now. I don’t want to hurt you so I will be as gentle as I can. I am picking you up now. You are not happy. I can hear how hard it is for you right now. I am placing you in your seat. You are very strong. I am going to hold you upright so I can buckle the straps. I’m sorry if this is hurting you. I am putting your arms through the straps. We are nearly done. You are all strapped in now. You are very upset and need to cry. It’s ok to cry as much as you need. I love you very much.”

I moved to kiss her little forehead but she let me know with a swinging arm that she did not want me close. That was ok and I backed off.

As I drove home I listened to her sobs as if each one was telling me a story of her tough day. This helped me listen with empathy and I never once felt so much as a pinch of anger or annoyance come over me. My little girl was hurting and I empathised. I drove the long way home, only turning towards our house once I heard her cries had diminished and an air of calm had come over her.

At home I unbuckled her and then asked if she would like a cuddle as I lifted her from her seat. I stated, “You were very upset. I could tell by your strong cries.” She wrapped her little arms around me and I held her tenderly as I felt her body relax in my arms. The skies had cleared. The release was over and she was once again unburdened of strong feelings. She was free to play peacefully for the rest of the day. Her tolerance and contentedness was remarkable in her interactions with her sister, her toys and my requests.

You might also like to read:

Coping With a Toddler Tantrum in a Stressful Situation ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

Testing Toddlers Crave Limits ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)

No Ifs, Ands or Buts: Setting Limits With Empathy ~ Lisa Sunbury (Regarding Baby)

Setting Limits With Respect – What it Sounds Like (Podcast) ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)

Coping With a Toddler Tantrum When You Can’t be 100% Present

Coping With a Toddler Tantrum in a Stressful Situation ~ Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids

I am a relief teacher. Sometimes I get called into work early in the morning and have to rush to be ready in time but luckily, more often I am given advanced warning. Today I had received the call the night before and so was able to ensure I was up early with lunches made and bags packed, ready to have everyone out of the house by 7:30am. But even with warning, getting out of the house in the morning is quite stressful and everything needs to run smoothly in order for me to make it to school before the bell rings for class. Continue reading

Testing Toddlers Crave Limits

Over the past couple of weeks my usually placid, youngest toddler has become more assertive, more demanding and generally more testing. Coincidentally we celebrated her second birthday last week. Does this mean we are in for a healthy dose of the terrible twos? Funnily enough, I don’t think so. I have written extensively on my eldest daughter’s testing behaviours over the past year here, here and here. We have certainly been put through our paces with her and have come a long way as a family and as parents since these early days.

Testing Toddlers Crave Limits Continue reading