How to Handle Tantrums

Here’s a fun one unless you have toddlers and then this is very serious. How do you handle temper tantrums? This is a problem that virtually everybody handles or everybody tries to figure out and it’s a bit of a terrifying, shocking event when your two year old or whatever age, they just throw the biggest fit you’ve ever seen in your life and you’re just like, what is going on with their emotions? They don’t know. You don’t know. It’s a very intense thing to deal with. So I’m going to throw out five ways of dealing with this because there’s so many ways that I keep hearing and I want to get Jeff’s reaction and then I’ll say just probably some closing comments. Okay.

So way one. Your child’s having a huge temper tantrum. There’s discipline. Maybe give them a quick spank, put them in timeout, put them in a crib someplace, close the door, let them have their temper tantrum. You respond to that by isolating them and by giving this some negative reinforcement of some kind. Number two, you ignore them. So you’re like, they’re trying to get attention, I’m going to use your attention. We all kind of leave the room. We let them have their temper tantrum. We deal with it by communicating to them that’s not how you handle your emotions. It’s not how you get your way.

Number three, you just sit there and wait. You just, okay. There you go. Again, the strategy here is just letting them kind of cry it out, beat it out, and just wait for them to be done, but stay kind of present with them. A fourth way is engage. So you actually move towards them when they’re in a temper tantrum, you try to hold them, you try to talk to them, you try to talk them out of it. The fifth one, and I’ve never tried this, but I’ve heard other people do this, which is they imitate their children having a temper tantrum.

So their kids there flailing and they’re like, oh, you think you’re the only one that can do this? Then you go down. Now don’t try this if you’re in the supermarket. Make sure you’re at home, nobody’s watching, the blinds are drawn. But go ahead and imitate that and then just forget your kid and maybe your child will look over and think maybe that’s not such a good idea. I look that crazy. You’re like, yeah, you look that crazy. Isn’t that terrifying? You don’t want daddy to do that do you? So these are five ways that people handle temper tantrums and Jeff and I have talked about this subject in the past. So I’d love to hear Jeff, one through five or number six, how do you guys handle temper tantrums? How do you think about this?

Yeah. I think we’ve tried all different things. It’s all across the map I think. The first thing I would say is buckle up. I think. I think the one thing that I’ve learned already in a couple of years because we’re just about to get out of that stage with two kids almost already now and more of it coming with more kids. But is the first one I would say is that the one mistake I made is that there is no fix that is going to… I had to check my heart of I want this to disappear tomorrow and that was wrong. That really put me in a really bad place with how I responded for a little bit of just either overly harsh with my words or not kind, not gentle in my heart, et cetera.

Second one. So I learned that but then at the time that doesn’t mean that they get away with things, but I think I just had to really say, okay, this is certainly an emotional growth process that’ll probably be at least it looked like to us about six months to a year and it was in different stages and days. Checking yourself for what you’re prepared for. That helped me first of all and then second one I would say is you got to know each kid. Some of these worked on some kids and some of them worked on different kids. Where one of our kids was a lot more uncontrollable and needed space to just really bring it down and then was so open hearted to conversation after that. So openhearted, so tender, so wanted to have talks and so could get to the heart.

Then another kid was a lot more like I could actually engage in the moment with a little bit more like, hey look me in my eyes. Let’s focus. You don’t need to do this. We can take this to the level that’s a healthy for you and that worked. But that would totally just made the other kid ratchet up. So you just kind of have to really, really be able to really know your kid’s heart and another way to put his know your kid’s currency. What are they trying to actually get out of the tantrum? Do they just not have the words? Do they not have the language?

We really worked on language. We really worked on that tension of hey, it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be these things, but those do not control you. They cannot control you, those are not ultimate. I think you have to sit right in that tension. Early on we did sign language for angry and for sad and I think that helped a lot. Giving them language and then also with words, giving them words to say how they’re actually feeling. I realized that actually stopped a lot of tantrums because they would say those before it got there. Mainly before it got there and a lot of times kids even really young, just want to be understood, want to be heard. Of course there’s still moments where it still happens, but I noticed that diffused a lot. Giving them language, letting them be…

Then empathizing. Again, nine times out of 10 when we would empathize when it’s at a four out of a 10 they would never get to 10 out of a 10. But sometimes you don’t empathize and you try to shut down the four out of 10 tantrum and then it turns into a 10 out of 10 tantrum. Those are really quick and really fast, but those are a bunch of quick things that really put it together now. Where now, yeah, now when it happens, I feel prepared. I feel like it happens. It is what it is. We address it and it just is so much more solvable. Still happens. Still doesn’t go away overnight, but man, I feel like those things got us to a place of just being able to deal with it, be prepared for it. It doesn’t catch us off guard type of thing. Do you have anything you’d add to that?

Yeah. Guys try different things. I love what you said, Jeff. I think you do have to know your kids and I think this is a tough thing, but I think you hit the nail on the head. I think if anybody wants to watch Jeff do a live video of imitating one of his children while they’re having a temper tantrum, just go ahead and let us know, because I know I want to see that.

Exactly. Let us know in the comments.

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