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Help your children deal with their emotions

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OK, I recently got asked what to do when a 5-year-old is throwing a tantrum . . . .

Now, first I thought about what I know then I thought about it . . . ..I do have a tantrum thrower and I have used coaching on her very effectively and really, teenagers throw tantrums, they are just slightly more scary and intense. I do believe that our children do not get worse in the teenager years, they just get bigger, stronger and the fights get more intense, but really they are throwing a toddler tantrum in a teenage body. OK, so here are my thoughts. This is what I believe parents can do before, during and after such tantrums . . . .I have written this as though it is for a 5-year-old, since that is what I was asked, however it will translate to the teenage years with different language. Mindsets to move into.

1. Move into a Yes attitude . . . . . . .I have spoken to many great parents recently and they all seem to have this, they want to say yes to their children. Now this does not mean they get everything they want; it just means that we shift our mind to what we can do and not what we cannot do. So for example, your child wants your attention right now. You want to say yes, so you choose your child over what you are doing, or you let them know what they can have. "Mummy is just finishing this, would you like to sit next to me while I do it? What would you like to do for 5 minutes until Mummy can finish this and spend some time with you?" Your child is screaming for something they want . . . .. Food -- "I would love to buy you that, but it is full of things that are not good for you. I love you and I want you to eat things that I can at least pronounce, lets find something that is more real." Item- "That is so great; shall we put it on your birthday list? Wow, I love that, lets start saving for it; Mummy will give you £1 to start with and lets see how quick we can save up!" They key here is to say what we can do, not what we cannot do. Children love resistance; it gives them something to fight against. Your job is to remain the adult, not throw fuel on the fire. And if you still get the No I Want it Now, just stay calm, telling them that it is great they are so persistent (after all they will need this in life) and say something like, "Mummy is not willing to buy that now, but I am willing to . . . . . . .."

2. Let go of control - One of the most important mindsets you can move into is from control to choice. What we have to remember as parents is that we cannot make our child do anything; the more we try the more exhausted and angry we will get and the more defiant our child will become. All we can do is control our own reaction to what is occurring. We can make a choice to react to the circumstances or we can make a choice to respond from a place of love. Whenever you are about to do something with or say something to your child, first ask yourself, "Will what I am about to do move me closer to our further away from my child?" If it further away, then don't do it.

3. Do what is right, not what is easy. Most parents give in too soon and will take the easy option. Our child screams, so we give them what they want and they stop screaming. In this case, all we are doing is condoning them to carry on the behaviour. When we take the easy option we are not doing ourselves or our child any favours. Doing what is right and taking actions that are done to help our child form a conscience and build their character is not always easy, it is sometimes very painful. Let's face it, we don't like seeing our children in pain and we don't like feeling that pain ourselves, either. However, we must stop giving into their smiles and whims and cries and start thinking about their welfare. If what we doing is not instilling character and conscience, then perhaps we need to try something different. So what do you do in the midst of the tantrum?

I suggest following this four-step plan.

1. First tell your child what they are doing . . . ..

"Darling, do you realise that you are shouting at Mummy?" 2. Ask them to stop. "Please stop shouting." 3. If they continue, ask what would help and show understanding. "I can see how important this is to you. What do you need right now, how can Mummy help you?" 4. Tell them what is going to happen. "Mummy is just going to leave you in your room for a while until we can talk about this." "Let's just go back to the car until you feel better." "I am just going to sit here quietly until you feel better."

Be careful here not to make this a punishment; it has to be positive. If your child is a teenager, then it is fine for us to say that if it continues you will have to walk away, however with smaller children we have to be more careful.

What we must remember is that what we are seeing is a display of emotion that your child does not know how to deal with at the moment. That is all; no bad reflection on our parenting, just the child displaying an emotion. I mean, how many times do we as parents want to scream and throw a tantrum? I know I want to do it often, however because I can handle my emotions I choose to deal with it another way. Our children have not learnt quite how to do that yet, so we must be sensitive to this fact. If we stay calm and collected, then we are being a great role model for them in how to manage our thoughts. If we scream and shout, we are showing them that actually this is how you handle emotions, and they learn that this is the way to let it out.

What to do after.

I believe that after every outburst, there should be a reflection period; a period where you and your child discuss the situation and talk about ways in which you could handle this differently next time.

For this I use the temperature gauge -- I have included a short video here http://www.sarahnewton.com/help_your_children_deal_with_their_emotions.phtml.

Sarah Newton is a world leading authority on how to connect, engage and motivate young people. An author, speaker, consultant and media expert she has shared her wisdom with millions who have tuned into her TV and Radio Shows, followed her writing and listen to her thought provoking talks. She has been featured on most UK TV channels, hosted her own TV series and been involved with campaigns for such companies as MTV and the BBC and has sat on future thought panels for TV Companies. Hailed as "The Supernanny for Teens" by TV Times

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Sarah Newton
Youth
sarah@sarahnewton.com
Sarah Newton 's web site

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