Have you ever noticed how you feel during your child’s tantrum? Maybe you start having hot flashes or your heart beats really fast. You feel anger boiling inside you.
All those are normal reactions to your child’s tantrum.
But we have two choices from where to go from there….
We can either let our feelings escalate which usually results in our yelling at our kid, getting into power struggles, or labeling our kids with phrases like “Why are you always so bad?”
We can choose to remain calm during tantrums and curb our stressed out feelings. Easier said than done, right?
Keeping calm during tantrums isn’t always easy, but it is the right choice to make for ourselves and our kids. Here’s why…
Why Do We Want to Remain Calm?
Considering your child isn’t in any danger, focus on yourself first during a tantrum.
Imagine you're flying in an airplane and you hit some turbulence and the plane starts rumbling and bumping up and down. You might feel a little scared and anxious, so you look around to see the reactions of the flight attendants and wait to see what the pilot has to say.
Now, imagine if the flight attendants and pilots started freaking out. Your anxiety would most likely escalate and cause you to freak out too. But if the pilot and flight attendants were poised and calm, you would start to relax too.
Kids are the same way during turbulent times. Kids mirror the reactions of the person in charge.
If you are calm, they will start to be calm too.
If you are upset, they will be too, and your children will realize that they have more power when they see their parents aren't calm. And that is unsettling to them. An upset, enraged parent can signal to your child that his emotions are too much for my parents.
On the other hand, a calm and confident parent lets your kids know that you can handle their big emotions and just by knowing that can help them start to feel better.
How to Stay Calm During Tantrums
Staying calm during a tantrum doesn’t have to be hard when we have a toolkit of resources to use every time. With practice and consistency we can master staying calm during our child’s tantrum.
1. Take Deep Breaths
During my son’s tantrums, I will first close my eyes, put my hand on my belly, and take 5 deep, slow breaths. By doing this, I am able to block out what my son is doing and toward inward.
It gives me the needed time not to say or do anything but simply focus on calming myself. What’s great is that my son takes notice, and he might even do his magic breaths himself.
2. Have a Mantra
I, then, open my eyes and repeat a mantra either out loud or in my head while still keeping my hand on my belly.
Having a mantra can look like this:
“This is hard, but I will get through this.”
“I am in control of the situation.”
“I can handle this.”
A mantra will reaffirm that you are the one in control and that you are able to handle the situation. Seems obvious, but sometimes during a tantrum we let our kids take over and we quickly feel as if we are losing control.
That’s why we need a mantra.
Saying it out loud even works in calming your kids because they take notice of what is being said.
Have a go to mantra and practice saying it in the mirror and during every tantrum.
3. Imagine Yourself in a Superhero cape
So, you have taken your deep breaths and repeated your mantra. Now have a visualization to make you remain calm.
Some moms have reported that they imagine themselves in a superhero cape. They are standing on top of a large building with their cape whipping in the wind. They have the power to hold boundaries and remain calm in the face of danger (or, in this case, a tantrum).
Do not underestimate the power of visualization.
For added effect, it would help if you have an actual superhero cape to put on. Stand on the couch and pose like a superhero. If nothing else, your child will wonder what on earth Mommy is doing.
4. Form a Bubble Around You
I like to use this bubble strategy in public because sometimes I forget that my toddler’s meltdown only involves my toddler and me. No one else.
But when we are around other people and our kid is having a meltdown, it is easy to imagine judgment from other people. That causes us to get worked up and say things like “Look at the other kids. Are they being bad like you?” or to look around at other strangers and roll your eyes and say, “Look at everyone staring at you.”
Those comments are not helpful.
So what I need to do in order to block out all the people around me is to form a metaphoric bubble around my child and me. No one else can see into the bubble. We cannot see out.
This strategy helps me really focus on the needs of myself and my child without worrying about the perception from other people.
5. Sign Language
Using sign language has proven benefits to calm kids. Using sign language also calms myself.
Some signs to use: calm, angry, happy, peace, quiet, confident, brave.
Just like your mantra, you can repeat your sign language mantra over and over again. For example, I am CALM and CONFIDENT even though you are ANGRY. I WANT PEACE.
6. Do Jumping Jacks
I haven’t specifically done this one yet, but I read about it and love it! While your child is having a tantrum, get up and do jumping jacks.
For starters, they will be intrigued at what you are doing, and secondly, exercise can calm you.
Doing the jumping jacks will take your mind off what your child is upset about.
7. Apply the Most Generous Interpretation
It’s hard to be angry with someone who has a good reason for being upset. That’s why I try to apply the Most Generous Interpretation (MGI) to my son’s tantrum, and just by doing that makes me relax and remain calm.
It helps me realize that he isn’t purposefully trying to make me upset and that he isn’t a bad kid.
There you have it! My 7 secrets to staying calm during a tantrum. I hope these help. And always remember that if you don’t remain calm, you can always repair and try again.