7 Steps to Calm Your Child’s Tantrums Using ATTAACH Part 3

by Dawn K. Gibson

Now that you have a greater understanding of your child’s brain and nervous system, it’s time to dive into the 7 steps I’ve created to help you calm your child’s tantrums without putting her/him in time out or ignoring her.

I will explain each step in detail, but please know that these steps really take no time at all once you get the hang of it.

A-Ahhhhhh…Consciously Breathe!

breathe2Taking deep breaths is one of the quickest ways to calm your nervous system.
When your child starts tantruming, feel your feet on the floor and take a big deep breath with sound.
Breathe in your nose, let your belly rise.
Breathe out of your mouth, let your belly fall.
Do this two to three times.

T-Take a moment to assess how you are feeling

EPSON scanner imageAs you consciously breathe, notice what is happening inside of your body.
Notice any tension that presents itself in your physical body.
Notice any tightness, temperature, or other sensations as you scan your body from head to toe.

After scanning your entire body, pay attention to the part that seems to stand out more than the others.

Now, give that part of your body your full attention and breathe into it.
You can do this for one second or one minute.
After breathing into the tense body part, notice how you are feeling.
Are you feeling triggered by the tantrum?
Are you feeling embarrassed, angry, or irritated?
There is no self-judgment here, just noticing.
Continue to breathe as you allow yourself to be in the moment, feeling whatever emotion is arising for you.

Know that what you resist persists, so don’t squash your feelings (or your child’s)!

T-Take a moment to assess your child.

8140737_f260What do you see?
How is he feeling?
What is your sense of what’s happening in the situation?
Is he hungry, tired, need a diaper change or more attention?
Is he sad, angry or scared for some reason?

A-Acknowledge your child’s feelings.

k4BPmrjTy5-14Say what you see.
Tell her, “You seem sad, angry, scared, etc…?”

Or ask her, “Are you sad, angry scared, etc…?
You can also say things such as, “You seem mad because you can’t have another cookie, etc…”

Keep it simple. The younger your child, the simpler your wording must be.

If your child is really young, you can simply say one word, rather than whole sentences.
Your child may get angry if you aren’t attuned to how she is feeling in that moment, so go with what she says if she is verbal enough to identify her own feelings.

A-Allow your child to have or express his feelings.

angry_child1-300x199Do NOT try to fix or change the way he is feeling.

I can’t stress enough that what you resist persists.
Remember to keep breathing!

Allow him to freak out.
Just make sure you keep his body safe as you acknowledge how he feels.
If he wants to punch you, give him another way to expel that energy. For example, offer him a pillow or doll to punch.

No matter how he is expressing himself through his body, remember he is ok, as long as he isn’t hurting himself or anyone else (biting and hitting are very common in the toddler years and does not mean your child is “bad” or will become a sociopath!).
Your child is NOT trying to hurt your or manipulate you, he is in their reptilian brain.

Do your child a favor and refrain from saying, “You are ok, it’s ok, it’s no big deal, don’t cry, be a big boy, if you don’t stop crying, then you can’t have xyz…etc…”

When you say those things to your child, you are shaming or manipulating him. The message you are sending is that it’s not ok to be sad, angry or scared.

I know that you sometimes feel sad, angry, and scared, so please allow your little one to feel the full range of human emotion without feeling bad about it.

When you negate your child’s feelings, you are telling him that you do not see him and what is going on with him in that moment.

As your child grows and his feelings are not acknowledged and allowed, he will eventually suppress them and will feel invisible at some point. Later in life, this can lead to unhealthy behaviors that are used to cover up these unwanted feelings.

This is one of the many reasons women come to see me in my practice.
Most of my clients feel small or invisible, and believe what they have to say doesn’t matter to anyone around them.
When we dig a little deeper, we always learn that these core issues stem from a time when they were younger and felt shamed, unseen, and unheard by the important people in their lives.
I’d love for you to prevent this as much as possible with your child.

Remember: Behavior is a state, not a trait.
Always look beyond the behavior for the feelings your child is experiencing in the moment

C-Consciously Connect

images-1 This step should be combined with acknowledge and allow from above.

Be mindful, conscious, and in-the-moment as you connect with your child on an emotional level.

Show your child that you SEE her and you are with her in that moment.
All children want to be seen and heard and so do YOU!

H-Hold your child close to you.

calm_mum_420w-420x0If your child is old enough to understand your words, ask him if you can hold him.

If he will allow you to hold him, then hold your child close to you, heart to heart.

If he doesn’t want to be held, just stay close to him and let him know that you are there when he is ready for you to hold or hug him.

As you hold your child, sit silently, take deep breaths, or just repeat the feeling you see occurring, until the tantrum passes. Many times just simply holding and taking deep breaths will calm him down immediately.
The key here is simply to stay with your child and let him know he is not alone.

Because he is in his reptilian brain, tantrums feel very scary and out of control for him.
He is out of control. He can’t help it.
We have all been there.

The real question is: Are Tantrums Preventable

The answer is yes AND no.

Yes, because you can take action to help prevent tantrums by not going to the grocery store, out to lunch with friends, etc…when you know that it’s around the same time as your child’s naptime.

If you do need to get out for some reason, just plan ahead.
Make sure you have snacks available and that you’ve spent a good amount of time connecting with her before you leave so her little nervous system is regulated.

No, tantrums are not preventable because they are a natural part of your child’s growth and development.

If you pay attention, you will notice that tantrums and whining increase around the half-year point (1.5, 2, 2.5, etc…).

Your child might need to melt down in order to get back into a state of balance. It is a temporary state, so it’s best to allow him to tantrum, rather than attempting to stop it. That rarely works.

Again, please don’t isolate your child or place them in time-out when she tantrums. Leaving her alone during this scary time will cause her to become even more fearful and will only create anxiety for her.

Again, remember that she’s in her reptilian brain and only wants to feel safe. It is up to you to help her with this.

If you’ve enjoyed this series, you may also enjoy these books:

Parenting for a Peaceful World, by Robin Grille
Heart to Heart Parenting, by Robin Grille
The Vital Touch, by Sharon Heller, PH.D
Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain, by Susan Gerhardt
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn
Your One-Year Old, Your Two-Year Old, Your Three-Year Old, etc… Year Series, by Louise Bates Ames
Parenting from the Inside-Out, by Daniel Siegel
The Science of Parenting, by Margot Sunderland
Soul to Soul Parenting, by Annie Burnside

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DawnGibsonDawn K. Gibson, LCSW is on a mission to guide conscious moms with daughters into even higher levels of consciousness and self-awareness, so that they can stand in their personal power and break free from shame, anger, fear, and unwanted emotional family patterns.

Dawn knows exactly what it’s like to transform from living in constant fear, shame, and anger to living a life where she now stands in her power, owns her value, and has a high level of self-confidence.

She feels grateful to have the opportunity to guide you through the effective body-centered coaching program, Woman Rising, and to witness you as you create major shifts in your life as well. 
Dawn’s professional experience consists of earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work and 15 years of counseling and coaching children and women of all ages, and in all stages of life.

Please click the link and input your information to join her tribe of conscious moms with daughters and to claim your free audio file that will help you gain more connection with your body, mind, and spirit: http://dawnkgibson.com

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