They may range from a simple pout to a catastrophic public explosion. Regardless of the caliber, all kids have temper tantrums and all parents have to learn how to manage them.
At the risk of offending any stressed out parents, it is important to realize that temper tantrums are not necessarily a negative thing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), temper tantrums occur because children are eager to take control and have difficulty expressing themselves.
The thing is, I am not here to lecture you on the expert recommended methods for managing meltdowns I am sure they offer great processes for dealing with a screaming child; however, when my tiny human is doing everything in their power to break me down because I grabbed the wrong color sippy-cup, the opinions of professionals are not exactly what is dancing across my mind.
What is flooding my mind during these dark moments, you might ask? At these times, I wonder when this chaos will end. Not necessarily the exact tempter tantrum that is going on at the time, but when will this screaming phase end. Then, I am flooded with mom-guilt because I feel I am wishing away the precious years that I will miss in the future.
Oh yeah, one more thing is playing in my mind: The Frozen Soundtrack.
Not only because these songs have been filling our homes and stuck in our heads for almost ten years now; but, also because they help guide me through managing the daily battles with my three children.
Tantrums vs. Meltdowns
We sometimes use the terms tantrums and meltdowns interchangeably. While they are both challenging, the Child Mind Institute actually differentiates tantrums from meltdowns.
Tantrums are often milder outbursts than meltdowns. Usually during a tantrum, a child still has some control over their actions and will often stop when ignored. Imagine the child stomping her feet at the toy store because her parents refused to let buy a toy.
During a meltdown, a child typically loses all control and only stops when they have worn themselves out. Think about that kid who threw himself on the floor screaming loudly because he doesn’t want to put on his shoes.
Regardless if your child is struggling with a tantrum or meltdown, you can try to remain calm, try to understand their triggers, and take something positive out of it.
I know. Easier said than done. That is why I go to my Frozen-themed method below.
3 Step, Frozen-Themed Method
This simple 3 step, Frozen-themed method can help you manage your little ones even during tantrum and meltdowns of magical proportions.
Step One: Frozen Heart
Your child’s goal during a tantrum is to impact you. Depending on their age, they will say cruel things that they don’t mean, yell at ridiculously loud volumes, and some even resort to hitting or kicking.
Keep that heart of your frozen solid. Don’t let anything they say or do hurt your feelings. Remind yourself that this is normal behavior.
Sometimes distracting them or talking things through with your little prince or princess will work, but sometimes there is nothing you can do besides keep them safe while they cry it out.
Stay calm and composed. Don’t give in, and don’t take anything personally.
Step Two: Love is an Open Door
Once your child starts to calm down and those ice daggers begin to melt, you can start to reach out to their little defrosted hearts.
Show them love and accept any affection they start to offer. Keep an imaginary door open between you and your child.
The AAP advises to never punish kids FOR the actual temper tantrum. Your child is only learning how to deal with strong emotions, and they need your love most of all at these moments.
You want them to feel comfortable expressing themselves instead of holding it in. (I mean, you saw when Elsa held in all those emotions).
Step Three: Let it go
I apologize in advance for getting this stuck in your head. but let it go.
Move on after the temper tantrum. Remember that your child is only learning how to express themselves. They are not intentionally trying to be mean.
Do not stay angry with your child. It is totally understandable if you have to leave the room and take a mommy time-out to recover. After traumatizing explosions, I have even locked myself in my room for a few minutes until the cold tension starts to melt away.
Temper tantrums are challenging beast for everyone involved, including your child. They need you to keep a frozen heart, open your emotional doors, and be ready to let it all go when the chill settles.
Or, if all else fails, just belt out a few verses of your favorite Frozen tune and you will start to feel better.
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