With our society having an ever-growing focus on mental health, especially with children and young people, Lucy, Founder of NEST, discusses some strategies which may help you as a parent or carer if you are finding yourself struggling with your little one’s behaviour (and tantrums).
Firstly, it is okay and ‘normal’ for your child to have tantrums! Children have ‘big’ feelings which can be very overwhelming for them, and they can often struggle to regulate their emotions. This can lead them to becoming upset and frustrated.
It is important to remind yourself and reassure your little one that ‘all emotions are okay’, it is how we chose to display them that can cause the problem (e.g. it is okay to feel cross, but it is not okay to bite or kick).
In the moment when your little one is having a tantrum, it can be stressful and sometimes rather embarrassing (especially if in the middle of the supermarket like the Haribo tv advert!). It is important to remember to keep calm and remind yourself that people are unlikely to be judging you negatively, but feeling sorry for you!
If you are feeling stressed and anxious, your child will pick up on this, so remind yourself to try and keep yourself as calm as possible. This will also help to diffuse the situation.
‘It is okay to find these times stressful’
If you’re at home or somewhere where you can allow your little one to have space, then let them express their emotions and give them some space to roll around and shout on the floor. If you want to sit near them so they know you are close, then this is okay, but equally if you wanted to pop into the next room, then this is okay too. You may also need a few moments to gather yourself..it’s okay to find these times stressful!
When your child has calmed down, they are likely to come towards you looking for reassurance and needing a cuddle. Take this time to cuddle them, reassure them and tell them you love them. Big emotions can feel overwhelming for a little person!
Ensure you make eye contact with your child, get down to their level and explain to them what just happened whilst labelling their emotion.
“I know that Daddy saying “no” to having a biscuit right now has made you cross and that’s okay. I know you are feeling hungry, but I am cooking your tea and it will be ready in 5 minutes. Do you want to finish off playing for the last 5 minutes or help Daddy in the kitchen?”
In this example, you can see not only have you labelled the emotions and reassured the child, but you have then moved on positively by offering a distraction and a choice so the child then feels in control.
Labelling emotions takes time and practice: the more children are exposed to it, the easier it will become for them. Role modelling to your children by labelling your emotions is a brilliant place to start.
Reading stories which talk about emotions are brilliant for younger children, and as children get older, there are some lovely resources such as emotion stones which can be used to further develop this skill. If you have the space, could you offer your child a chill out zone/ shouting spot/ cross pillow to allow themselves to express their emotions? This has so many benefits to the whole family!
In time, tantrums will ease, but talking about emotions and reassuring your little one will help them through this tricky time!
If you would like further support with your little one’s behaviour/ tantrums, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We would be delighted to support you.