𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐈 𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐥 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐦𝐲 𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝’𝐬 𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐦𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐮𝐩𝐬𝐞𝐭? 𝐍𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐈 𝐬𝐚𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐩𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐦, 𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐞𝐥𝐩𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐦 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧. 𝐈𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐲 𝐟𝐫𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠. 𝐈 𝐧𝐞𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐝𝐯𝐢𝐜𝐞!!
Here is my advice: Accept that in those meltdown moments, you doing “nothing” is often better than doing something. Your job is to be present and witness, to be loving and model calm. (and offer up a hug if wanted).
Of course this is not actually “nothing”. It is definitely something. But it might feel like nothing.
Mature and loving presence is a real skill that has so many benefits. The reason why it might feel like nothing is because of our own conditioning and expectations that exist in our own minds. Perhaps you have learned that tantrums are bad behavior and “unacceptable”… and so they must be stopped. Perhaps you think “I can’t let him/her get away with this.” or “If I can’t calm her down that must mean I’m a bad parent”.
Another reason that it is hard to hold space for our children to have big emotions is because it can be uncomfortable for the parent. We want emotions to stop when we don’t know how to deal with the emotions that are coming up inside ourselves as result of their upset. Emotions are contagious and if we haven’t learned to regulate ourselves in the face of our child’s panic, upset and anger…. then that same panic, upset and anger will emerge within our own bodies. This is why many parents reach a breaking point and scream something like “Stop” or “Enough!!!”
So, here is a bit of “nothing” that you could try: if you just nodded a bit, maintained loving eye contact, breathed and reminded yourself that you are separate from your child and allowed for the emotion, the tantrum would likely resolve itself and the child would calm down.
Focus NOT on stopping the tantrum, but on maintaining your own calm and feeling of safety inside of you. This will help your child move through his/her emotions. (It’s actually fairly simple. But many people don’t know about this effective way of dealing with big emotions)
Then, when your child calms down you can talk. Have you noticed that talking with them, guiding them, reasoning with them WHEN a melt down is happening is often futile and adds to more overwhelm? People must calm down before they can engage in constructive dialogue. Talking and teaching, asking a kid to “use his words” right in the middle of his upset will almost certainly not help.
When kids feel safe to express their emotions, and safe with you, and are able to feed off your calm energy, they can process and move through their emotions… quickly even.
Then, at some point, you can engage about how to address whatever challenge there is. Problem solving comes after the emotional expression and when everyone is regulated enough to engage in a conversation.
First be the calm, model the calm, download the calm into your child…