photo credit: Wayan Vota via photopin cc
Today, I had a MAJOR temper tantrum issue with my 5 year old lovely daughter. When I say major, I mean MAJOR.
We got home from kindergarten, and everything was fine, but when she was asked to eat, then the TROJAN war begun. She started screaming, and screaming, and kicking and slashing, and I didn´t know she had such a sopranino scream! but she does. My timpani, and everyone´s at the house where almost bursting of the db force in her scream.
Immediately, my psycho-bable mind went into action. I am not a child psychologist, so what I know is what I remember from classes.
“Ignore…that is the best action to do. Walk away to another room. If that does not work, then try to control it, channeling it correctly, by saying something like I will count to 10 and you will STOP.(Say it calmly)”
O.k. first I tried ignoring and NOTHING. Still, my daughter was acting almost like CHUCKY!, even slashing with her fingers at herself…( I Checked with my eyes at her nails. They where short. You have to check for possible harm objects or actions.) Ignore some more… you have to calm yourself first!
I was very calm, but the ignoring part wasn´t working. 20 minutes ignoring and nothing. The counting thing… guess what, didn´t work either.
This is where the tantrum becomes MAJOR. If it was a minor tantrum, ignoring is the preferred method.
Alright, Dads and Moms, you may be thinking, “but what if it was in the supermarket? or someplace outside.?”
Well, the answer might be, try to ignore him or her. The problem with this is that you get all nervous because everyone at the supermarket is looking at you like if you are a monster. Well endure it!
If they are parents, they will understand. But, if you can´t take it, you could take your child and go outside. Change the environment. Sometimes this helps to change the conduct.
If the Tantrum is MAJOR
Super nanny Eileen Hayes, has summarized what you have to do:
For a really major tantrum, different tactics are needed…
Speak calmly, saying things like ‘I’m here, I won’t let you hurt yourself’.
Hold your child tightly, preferably making eye contact.
Sometimes you just have to weather the storm till your child calms down.
‘Time out’ can help if you find it impossible to stay calm. Time out involves putting your child somewhere safe but boring (for example a playpen, pushchair or the bottom step) for a couple of minutes. It should never be forced in anger and is not really understood by under 3’s. It may work best for parents to take it themselves!
If you want to read the article you may find it at the Supernanny´s web page.
Well, I did everything by the book…and nothing. I cuddled with her, and nothing. When you cuddle, hug tight your child at first, and then, as Supernanny Eileen said, look at your child in the eyes. Start to breath deeply, and start slowing the breathing, this should make a slight change at first with your child´s physiology. Well, I did it, and for a couple of seconds, enough to be almost crying victory, she was calm, but then all of a sudden, TANTRUM!
I timed her out. You need to do it according to the age of your child. If your child has 5 years old, like mine, then you do a Time OUT, for five minutes. You do it for the amount of age your child has. One minute per year.
The five minutes passed and nothing. She was even more into her tantrum, and she didn´t want to end her time out!
What if the strategy does not work?
First of all, you need to stay calm.
I had to think, be creative enough, and help her get rid of all that energy inside. She was like a big volcano before the eruption. The energy needs to go out, and in a creative way, or playful way for the child, but it needs to change course to a more positive venue.
Energy Work exercises that are fun that stop a temper tantrum
I will explain three exercises you can do with your child to stop the tantrum fast, and change its course. I used one of them and the tantrum stopped in 5 minutes. All of them are to be done at the house.
- 1. Grab a towel. Any towel will do. You have to twist the towel until you have it like a cylinder. Grab one end of the towel, and put it in your mouth. Bite the towel and make a noise like if you are a dog, cat, T-rex, whatever. My daughter loves dogs, so I made a barking and angry noise. Take the other end, and give it to your child, so they can do the same. Now that both of you are biting the towel, fight for the towel, moving your head from side to side, and pulling. Your child will pull also, that´s what you want, for him or her to use energy by maintaining the movement and the grip. Be careful not to pull to strong, you only want for him to have fun, and to get all that energy off.
We pulled and slashed with our mouths at the towel, like if we where fighting dogs. For time to time I asked her to get angry, and make an angry face, in order for the anger energy to exit faster. Three minutes had passed and she was even laughing with me. Five minutes and she was exhausted but happy. I too was exhausted and happy.
2. The second method is also with a towel. You grab it and twist it, and then you grab one end, and your child the other end. You play who´s tougher or who can pull harder at the rope (towel). It takes a lot of energy to pull a towel. It takes a lot of energy also, to maintain a tantrum.
3. For the third method, you need to be close to a wall. A brick wall. What you have to do is start pushing with all your might at the wall. Like if the wall will back away with your push. Really push hard, you have to show your child you are really trying to push at the wall. Ask him or her for help. Ask them to push very hard, with all their power. That way, you will take away energy, from the tantrum.
A variation of this exercise could be to stand face to face with your son or daughter and push at each other, with your hands touching his hands. Palm vrs. palm push. Since you are bigger, just use enough force to make him/her sweat a little, trying to push at your hands. But remember make your child do the anger face, and even better ask him to make a noise with each push. This way they can express themselves with the noises or screams.
With all of the above exercises please be careful, remember that you are the grownup, and that the objective of the exercises is for your child to use up excess energy.