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Tantrums and your toddler

It's October, school has started, and it's off to a great start. Or, is it?

We all know that this school year is different than previous years, and we know that it might be affecting our children.

What are some signs that your child is having a difficult time? Could they be acting out at home or at school? Is this normal behavior? How do we manage their outbursts?

First of all, remember that all kids throw tantrums, have outbursts, and don't listen at one time or another. That is normal, developmentally appropriate behavior. How we respond to their tantrums and outbursts might need some modifications, which will then help your child to settle down. For example, calming ourselves down will allow your child to mimic your behavior and mood and can help them calm down as well. Easier said than done, right?

According to a New York Times article,

Mid-freakout, it’s helpful for parents to understand what’s going on beneath the surface, then to mitigate the “threat” by establishing a sense of safety.

So in order to understand these emotional outbursts, we have to understand the why behind them:

According to R. Douglas Fields, a neuroscientist and author of “Why We Snap: Understanding the Rage Circuit in Your Brain,” a temper tantrum involves two parts of the brain: the amygdala, which is primarily responsible for processing emotions like fear or anger; and the hypothalamus, which in part controls unconscious functions like heart rate or temperature.

Try to remember mid-tantrum that your child's fight or flight responses have kicked in.The logic part of their brain hasn't fully developed yet. So, you won't be successful trying to reason with them, since their stress response will limit their already limited ability for self-control.

So, how do we help our children when they are having a meltdown?

  1. Make sure that YOU calm down. Take a deep breath or walk away for a moment to collect yourself. Once you're calm, use that energy to help your child calm down. Focus on your actions, more than what you're telling them, to help your child calm down. Your child will respond better to how you're acting rather than what you're saying.

  2. Try to kneel down to their eye level, which automatically makes you engaged, listening to, and empathizing with their frustration.

  3. Once your child is calmer, you can validate their feelings and help them figure out what triggered the outburst. Usually, falling apart because their milk is served in the wrong cup is not what is bothering them. Perhaps they're nervous about separating from mommy at school.

Trying to understand the WHY behind the tantrum will allow you to help your child understand their own feelings so they can vocalize their emotions. This will allow for fewer tantrums and a more peaceful home.

If your baby or toddler is struggling with any sort of behavior or sleep challenge, contact Slumberland Solutions for a free 15 minute consultation. We can help you establish healthy routines and schedules and discuss your family's challenges. Sweet Dreams! 😴👶

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