Dealing With Tantrums The Mindful Way
I bet this scene looks familiar to a lot of you. If your kid hasn’t done this, you have probably seen someone else’s lying on the floor in a public space, either crying or thrashing or just pretending to be a log, not budging even when the parents are using all their strength to get them off the floor.
I used to get embarrassed of this, gave sheepish smiles to onlookers, tried to force my child to get up, tried to pick him up and get out of that place asap. Now I don’t, or haven’t since a long time. I haven’t felt the need to do anything since these instances have almost stopped once I started doing mindful parenting. But what did I do when they did happen and I was in the process of becoming a calmer parent? I would sit down with him. Right there in the middle of the store while people looked at the crazy mother and son duo. I would sit quietly, not even looking at him, giving him the opportunity to calm down. Being physically close to the child reassures him that you are there, and he is safe. That is the first step in emotional regulation.
“Tantrums” are basically just strong emotions in a little body that is trying to understand them, but isn’t always able to. “Tantrums” are healthy. They mean that your child is trying so very hard to understand and regulate emotions. “Tantrums” are never about the parent, even though they might seem that way sometimes. Once you understand that, it will become easier dealing with tantrums.
(in inverted commas because I don’t like this word personally. It has very negative connotations.)
If a friend of yours is upset, I’m sure you wouldn’t say this, “Oh stop crying! You know I hate it when you cry. Why do you have to be this way.” Would you? I don’t think so. You’ll tell that you get it, and that you are there to support them.
Why should it be any different for your own child? That should be how to deal with tantrums.
Here’s what you should do for your own self as soon as you see an approaching outburst:
- Breathe and focus.
- Remind yourself that your child is in need of help to navigate through all this crazy emotional havoc in his mind.
- Remember that he isn’t doing this out of spite.
- Think about how you need to support him through this in a respectful manner.
- Remember that you are a leader, and regulating your own emotions sets an example.
All of these will help you stay calm while you approach your child.
Also, always get down on their level. Kneel down so they can see into your eyes. It makes the world of difference because when you are towering over someone, they feel intimidated. And that doesn’t help.