Tantrums: A Different Perspective

Tantrums: A Different Perspective

I have had the pleasure of working with Laura Karl and we share a similar belief system when it comes to tantrums. I am honoured to share her guest blog post with you.

How to respond to tantrums: a Holistic Life Coach’s perspective

Through my work at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, I have learned many many therapeutic interventions, but the most powerful one that I’ve learned through my Holistic Life Coaching practice and motherhood that can bring both the parent and child immediate relief is “holding the space”. When a child was in a full emotional meltdown, screaming and saying things they don’t mean, the only effective thing I could do in that moment was to find my centre, drop into my heart, be still, be calm, and just be there for the child. I would sit next to them and stay calm for the both of us.

I heard a great story tonight from one of my many life teachers. He told me a story about his dogs. He and his partner have 5 little dogs which they adore, but they like to bark for reasons they sometimes have no idea. He explained that he would respond by yelling back at them “hey stop it!”, “get back here”. Eventually, they went to a dog trainer for advice. The dog trainer told them that by yelling at them, you are essentially barking at them and they get the message from their pack leader that it is okay to bark. What the dogs actually need is a softer pack leader to stay calm so that they can return to a state of calm.

Now children obviously aren’t exactly like dogs, but the premise is the same. My child is still very young and although I am getting better at seeing the meltdown warning signs, it still seems to happen in the blink of an eye. In those moments when you observe their mood start to change and you’ve tried your best to keep the environment neutral, but a full on meltdown is already happening, the only thing you can do is hold the space. We parents want so badly to take the pain away for our children, which is a natural and very caring response. However, you can’t fight fire with fire right? Or all you are left with is fire! Get out of your head which is likely spinning with trying to figure this out, or to come up with solutions to make it stop, or wishing that this wasn’t happening yet again. Remember, kids are terrified of these feelings. They don’t want this any more than you do. So support them by taking a breath, dropping into your heart and finding your center, and just be there.

Okay parents, this takes practice! It’s not like you’re on some beach in Maui breathing in the salty fresh air, there is a child screaming in distress next to you. It’s like building any muscle and you have to work on it to get stronger. In those moments make sure the child is in a safe place, and then take a breath. Let the urge to fix or “bark back” wash over you – trust me, it will pass. Observe that urge, and then release it. You literally can feel the air change. In this moment, the most effective thing you can do is hold the space for your child. When they are ready, they will themselves release those emotions and be embraced by your calmness, lovingness, and peacefulness. Now breathe and give them and you a big hug.

With love,Laura

Laura Karl, mother, Holistic Life Coach, Registered Nurse


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Surviving the Toddler Years

Surviving the Toddler Years

The first thing that comes to my mind when someone says, “toddler” is TERRIFIC!  I personally believe perspective is everything.

I have heard lots of people state “terrible twos” and they discuss how frustrating it is to parent children in this stage.  I am not at all disagreeing with that, trust me. I am currently living it. Some days are better than others.  Do I get frustrated and raise my voice? Yes, sometimes I do.  Then I apologize, not sure he completely understands, but I do.

I am often amazed at how my little man is constantly watching and wanting to do what we do.  If I had a loonie for every time he stated, “I help” or “I do,” I would be a millionaire.

There are many times that I am busy in the kitchen and I see my little man running for his chair.  He grabs his chair, pulls the chair up beside me, climbs up and says “I help.”  A similar thing happens when I do laundry.  As soon as he hears the door to the washer or dryer open, he yells, “I do!”  It takes more time to get the chore done and I have to be patient. These are great teachable moments that help children take an interest in doing chores.

We have witnessed many cute moments.  Examples: copying his older brothers as they yawn or stretch; dribbling a basketball when he was less than 2; repeating phrases straight from my mouth ( I had no idea how often I said “sure” or “okay”); jumping up and down with glee after going pee in the potty; singing along with songs from his brothers iPhone; and dancing in the middle of a store without a care in the world.

2013-12-08 17.56.57There are many moments where I am not sure if I should run away, cry, or tantrum with him.  I still have no idea how he can hit the floor face down in full tantrum mode in 2 seconds flat.  He goes from standing, happily chatting, to sprawling on the floor screaming. Sound familiar?

That is my cue to figure out what is causing him to be so distraught.  90% percent of the time, it is that he is not getting what he wants, NOW!

I get down to his level or bring him up to mine.  Then I usually try to empathize with him.  It works sometimes, but not always. Then I try to distract him by encouraging him to engage in a different activity or I help him accomplish the task that is frustrating him.  If that is not working, I keep pulling out my various parenting tools until I find something that works. For more information, read my previous post, Overflow Your Parenting Toolbox.  (see https://parentingfoundations.com/overflow-parenting-toolbox/)

Lets put ourselves in those little shoes for a moment. For the first year or more, things are being done for them.  All of a sudden he/she figures out that they can do so much.  They want to do the same things you do, but just can’t yet.  It must be hard to see people around you doing something and you try but it does not work.

A good example of this is talking. My little man has a lot of words that he can speak with, but they often form weird sentences or are difficult to understand.  He has to repeat himself several times to get his point across.  I believe I would cry or tantrum if I was in that situation.

Have you ever tried to physically see the world from a toddlers perspective?  Wow, I find it to be very intimidating. When you get a chance, get down to your child’s level and see what they can.  I see a bunch of knees, lower body parts, and only parts of things.

This perspective has made me less angry and more understanding of why my little man often wants “uppy pease” (up please).  I challenge you to get down to your child’s level in a crowd to see what they see.

How can we reduce the frustration that our toddlers experience?

We can be patient, teach them how to do the new task, engage them in age appropriate activities, let them lead an activity (child-directed play is amazing for increased self-esteem), get them to help out with chores, give them things to do, and teach them new words.  Remember this is a stage that is short-lived and so much growth is occurring, it is amazing.

The following is a list of the things our little man does around the house that seems to empower him. Here goes:

  • moves the laundry from the washer to dryer
  • helps empty the dishwasher (after I remove the sharps and anything of value)
  • puts the face clothes away
  • put the piles of folded clothing in an empty basket
  • “washes” dishes ( I fill up the sink throw in a few cups or utensils that are already clean)
  • puts his toys away (not always where they are supposed to go but close enough)

Oh and if something gets spilled on the floor watch out!  Our toddler runs to get a cloth and throws it on the spill.  Try to find ways that your little one can “help” or be engaged in similar activities that you are.

Remember to pack your patience and take in as many moments as possible.  Time flies. The toddler years are amazing times of growth.  Enjoy!

**Want to learn more, join the conversations about Toddlers in the PF Membership area.

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