Tantrums and Time Outs
Handling a Temperamental Tantrum
If you’re an emotional mom like me, it can be a struggle to remain calm and know how to deal with your child’s breakdowns. As mothers, our instinct is to nurture and comfort; to find out the source of the problem and fix it. Being children, they have a natural tendency not to react positively when we can’t instantly make things better, or give them what they want. It pleases us to please our children, but when it comes to tantrums, tension and emotions tend to run high; and handling it incorrectly can quickly escalate the situation.
Being an empath, I have an uncontrollably tendency to feed off of the emotions of others; especially my son. If he’s not happy, it makes me feel unhappy. As a mom who struggles with her mental health, when my son breaks down; I often spiral into an emotional breakdown myself. It’s taken time, trial and error, and assistance from my patient husband for me to figure out and learn how to best deal with my toddler’s tantrums. Juggling negative emotions in an upsetting and stressful situation is no easy task, but there are some key methods to make it easier to handle.
First of all, don’t forget to breathe. Just as we can feed off of the negative emotions of our children, they feed right back off of ours. If you’re angry and upset, the chances are high that your child will be upset as well; which will cause both the parent and child to have a harder time dealing with the situation. When your child is acting out, it’s important to stay calm and keep a level head; in order to avoid escalating the negativity. If you’re calm, your child will have an easier time calming down; and the situation won’t be as hard to deal with.
From my experience, as suggested in the title, the best way to handle a tantrum, is time out. Rather than causing or allowing the situation to escalate, or the child to become more upset; you need to stay calm and put a stop to it. Quietly and calmly, take your child to a safe place where they can sit and calm down; preferably without distractions or things they can get into. For my two year old, that place is his crib. When he throws a tantrum every time he doesn’t get his way, I pick him up and sit him in his crib. I find that he calms down faster if I give him some space, rather than hovering and trying to repetitively talk him down out of his outburst. It can take several minutes, but fairly quickly; he will get over his tantrum and settle down. At this point, I take him back out; and we both move on with our day.
It is important to both realize and know that when needed, it’s okay for a parent to take time out too. If a tantrum is too stressful or upsetting to deal with, there’s nothing wrong with taking a few minutes for yourself; to breath and calm down. In fact, sometimes it’s necessary. Put your child in a safe place, such as their crib or playpen; and give them a few minutes to settle down. Excuse yourself from the room, close the door, and give yourself a few minutes as well. Your child will be safe, and you can get a quick break to help yourself cope; and deal with the situation. When it comes to dealing with stress and negativity in parenting, it’s important to find middle ground between taking care of your child; and taking care of yourself.
Above all, remember not to be too hard on yourself. Parenting is a very difficult road, and rest assured you are not the only one who struggles with handling the difficulties of it all. Tantrums and outbursts are normal for a child, and your child lashing out or getting upset is not a reflection on you; nor your parenting abilities. Just as we struggle with our own emotions at times, so do they. It’s only normal, and you do not need to feel bad if your child isn’t perfectly behaved all the time. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at times, when your child is upset, you are still a good parent.
The next time you find yourself facing a tantrum or outburst, try the steps outlined in this article. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break to help yourself calm down, while giving your child a bit of space to do the same. Tantrums are no easy challenge to face, but don’t let yourself forget that they will pass; and that both of you will get through the stress of the moment. Keep your head up, and look for the silver linings amidst the chaos.