How do you control your temper during tantrums?

(19 Posts)

DD is 4 and can be so bossy and have spectacular tantrums. I know that when I stay calm it is so much better but I have a short fuse and get mad back.

Does anyone have any calmness tips they can share?

mandbaby Wed 09-Jul-14 12:04:05

There is another thread (500+ replies) on here about wanting to be a "better parent" - i.e. remain calm, shout less, etc.

It's easier said than done though, I know!

I'll be interested to read what tips other people have to share because I really struggle with it, but have been getting better recently after reading some parenting books. ("Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting" , Peaecful Parent Happy Kids: Stop yelling, start Connecting" (this one was BRILLIANT!) and I'm currently half-way through "When Your Children Push Your Buttons".

A few things that I try and remember mid-tantrum:

1. Tantrums occur because their tiny brains haven't learned to connect logic with emotion. Don't try and reason with them as they just wont get it and it will likely make their tantrum worse. Instead, empathise with them. "Yes, I can see you're angry" "You really didn't want your drink in that blue cup, did you?" etc. It will make them realise that you're on their side and SHOULD start to diffuse their anger. Don't see it as "giving in", you're just being there for them in a way that they need.

2. Don't push them away as much as you may want to!. Instead cuddle them, shush them, and tell them that you're here and that they're safe. We cuddle a crying baby, and a toddlers tantrum is just that - a cry for help. Shush and calm them in the same way.

3. Pin up newborn photographs of them around the house. It will be a visual reminder to you that they once were, and still are, absolutely perfect and very vulnerable.

Looking forward to reading everyone else's tips...

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 09-Jul-14 12:07:54

Well tickling or blowing raspberries on tummies sometimes helped and one friend confessed her secret weapon was to burst into tears.

I found laughing took the wind out of their sails or using foreign phrases baffled mine into silence. Once or twice I said " Okay you be Mummy I'll be the baby waaah! Waaah! Waaaah!" And when they were either entranced or stunned into silence I could say right let's get on with whatever task they'd been storming about.

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 09-Jul-14 12:10:59

Ensure they are some where safe, Walk out the room!

Honestly, if you pay absolutely no attention small DCs stop bothering to tantrum and older DC learn to take themselves off to their rooms to cool down.

There is no point in talk, hugs or empathy until the adrenaline produced by illogical, being only little, in a confusing world has subsided.

Sillylass79 Wed 09-Jul-14 12:14:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DonkeysDontRideBicycles Wed 09-Jul-14 12:20:15

If in public say you know she's cross but this is what you need her to do. Don't complicate things with offering multiple choicesm Don't raise your voice however tempting. And if you have threatened leaving an event early, if she doesn't calm down or behave, then follow through with the action or she's going to know it's an empty threat.

NinjaLeprechaun Wed 09-Jul-14 12:25:41

My main problem when my daughter throws threw tantrums was not laughing at her. Nobody likes to be laughed at, it doesn't help.
Although, and this is as true at 18 as it was at 3, if I can/could get her to laugh herself she'd snap right out of it.

I agree with the people saying that you need to learn to disengage. Make sure they can't hurt themselves or anybody else, and then walk away (not far, obviously, especially if you're out.)

ouryve Wed 09-Jul-14 12:27:41

My boys are older but have ASD, so it's important to handle things right, for everyone's safety when one of them goes into meltdown. It's slightly different with each of the boys.

The thing that keeps my own adrenaline levels down is remembering that the meltdown or tantrum is often as a result of bewilderment or fear and that, no matter how angry they seem, they're actually feeling quite vulnerable at that moment. There is almost always something to be learnt from a tantrum or meltdown and, in a younger or immature child, it's almost never that they're out to deliberately piss you off.

DS1 can say some pretty awful things. They express the extremeness of his current feelings. There is no subtlety when he is distressed and he doesn't really get the nuances of feelings at the best of times. Many typical 4 year olds are probably emotionally on this level.

I try not to get sucked in. I don't engage unless it's really obvious that I need to engage, for safety's sake. Any discussion needs to happen afterwards. For now, I need to mentally and/or physically take a step back

If it's safe to do so, I keep my distance and leave the room if possible, after checking for anything fragile or dangerous that's likely to be thrown or knocked over. If it's just me and the two boys, I channel my energies into keeping the other one calm (and safe). If it's just me and the boy who is having a moment, I distract myself - Twitter and frivolous threads on mumsnet are good for this. If I'm feeling rattled, I might take it out on a random goady fucker.

I put my mental energy into working out what went wrong and how it's possible to prevent it from happening again, if it is possible. (Sometimes, the wind is simply blowing in the wrong direction and it was going to happen, anyhow). Often the signs were obvious, but missed.

If we're in public, I have my rictus grin and ultra bright and breezy face on. And apologise profusely and cheerfully to anyone who finds an angry boy lying on the floor in front of them.

Sometimes, there actually is humour to be found in the situation, because the whole thing is so damned surreal.

And wine.

mandbaby Wed 09-Jul-14 13:10:07

This isn't like me at all, but I have to disagree with some of the suggestions saying "walk away". Well, not disagree entirely, but change the process slightly...

Imagine you're stressed, frightened or angry and have got yourself into a situation where these uncontrollable, unexplainable emotions have caused you to explode and before you know it, you're shouting at someone you care about. What if that person just walked off while you were in the middle of trying, but failing, to express how you feel? How would that make you feel? Personally, it would make me worse!

However, if walking away means you're doing it because you don't want to snap at them and end up shouting, fine. But I think you should say something like "I can see you're very angry right now, and Mummy doesn't seem to be able to make things better. Mummy needs a moment to calm down too. I'm going to leave the room and I will come and talk to you in a minute when we've both calmed down". That way, the child doesn't feel abandoned/angrier/scared by the separation which would probably make the tantrum worse, but will know that it's ok to be confused about how (s)he's feeling.

Walking away to "win" a battle: Not good. Walking away before you say/do something you'll regret, fine, but just explain WHY you're doing it so the child doesn't feel abandoned/neglected/hated.

LittlePink Wed 09-Jul-14 13:13:13

It all depends on how im feeling as to how I handle the temper tantrums. Sometimes I can handle them better than others. I know shouting at her does no good at all and escalates it further. So I really try not to, but if shes played me up all day and im particularly tired, then sometimes im only human and don't handle things too well. On the whole I find my LO needs empathy. So an example was the other night, I gave her plenty of warning that it was going to be bath time soon but when the time came and I turned the tv off, she went beserk, fell on the floor, almighty tantrum kicking and hitting me, screaming, the works. So I ran the gauntlet through the hitting me and hugged her and said "i know how much you wanted to watch driver dan and how angry you are and mummy is really sorry. I wish I could I let you watch more but its bath time now. Mummys sorry you're so angry" in a very gentle voice. She called right down and within a minute she'd forgotten and I was tickling her and making her laugh and we moved on to a nice bath time. Had I have threatened time out, told her to stop being so naughty etc then it would have escalated and been really ugly (believe me ive been there on several occasions). Other tantrums she needs ignoring. It all depends what its over and why. If shes just being a pain and whinging and carrying on then sometimes she needs a bit of ignoring "mummy cant listen to this. I dont understand that voice. I need the nice voice. Not the yucky voice. I'll be over here when you're done" Then leave her to it. Sometimes she likes an audience and when she realises she hasn't got one she gives up.

Sillylass79 Wed 09-Jul-14 13:22:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mandbaby Wed 09-Jul-14 13:35:23

I hear what you're saying sillylass79 but I stick by my point that if someone was to walk away from you while you're in the middle of yelling at them, how does it make you feel? Do you suddenly think "oh, they've gone now, I'm so much calmer because they've left, so I'll shut up because I know I'm in the right anyway" or do you just feel more enraged that they're not listening to you and you couldn't get your point across?

Sillylass79 Wed 09-Jul-14 13:54:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Goldmandra Wed 09-Jul-14 14:11:42

Two year olds in meltdown often scare themselves. Reassurance helps but they can't process language so talking doesn't. In fact even older children can't process language in full meltdown so explanations are better saved for later.

Walking away from an older child to show that you won't accept being abused is fine but toddlers need you to be there so that they know they are safe.

Don't talk to them. Don't offer choices. Just be prepared to make eye contact and offer a hug when they are ready. That hug is going to help them to calm down and teaches them the early skills they will need later to calm themselves. When to give the hug is a judgement call and differs with every child. Too early it can trigger more of the tantrum.

It helps if you can remember that it isn't personal. The tantrum is the result of a child being unable to manage their own emotions and that is unpleasant and scary for them. They usually aren't choosing to do it unless they have learned that it's a good method of getting something you don't want to give them.

Sillylass79 Wed 09-Jul-14 14:19:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Frontier Wed 09-Jul-14 14:27:35

I found the breathing/relaxation exercises they taught you for labour were actually just for this purpose.

ouryve Wed 09-Jul-14 14:29:21

Mandbaby - in my case, if I don't walk away from DS1 (and invite him to discuss it with me when he's feeling a little more composed) it escalates the situation. Quite often, I would also put myself in danger. He's welcome to all the hugs in the world when he's less flaily.

ouryve Wed 09-Jul-14 14:43:25

And I recently had to fill out a form with DS1 for his new school and part of that was listing what sort of situations can be upsetting for him and what sort of things help him when he is upset. He was very clear about not wanting to be talked to, unless he asks for it. He was very clear about needing space. At his old school, a few of the TAs had to be repeatedly reminded to keep their distance and not make a fuss, because he found it incredibly stressful. (He's 10, but emotionally around half his age).

DS2 is 8 and is like a large toddler, in terms of maturity. He's non-verbal, so tends to be a lot more physical, when he's upset. Thankfully, he doesn't have the prolonged meltdowns that DS1 has always been prone to, but he does lose his rag and it's very short and intense. He doesn't pull his punches and will pummel me if I get too close in the heat of the moment. I have no choice but to walk away, unless we're outside and he's not in a safe place.Only once the red mist has cleared a little, will he come for a hug and some help or reassurance.

Thanks for the advice wink

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