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How to deal with kids tantrums, emotional outbursts and more – with love.

With World Emoji Day around the corner, we thought it was fitting to examine the world of emotions. Ask any adult about feelings, and they will tell you that there is a time and place to express them.  You feel sad, but you don't cry in public. You get irritated with your boss, but you do not let it show in your voice. These days we need not always find the words to say it right and can resort to emojis.

Is there a right way for kids to express their emotions? 

Toddlers, terrible twos, terrible threes, and tantrums – there is more there than just alliteration! While young children are learning to communicate, they often do not have the right words or get overwhelmed with complex emotions and cannot do so in an appropriate way.

There is a right way for children to express their emotions, and as parents, we can help them do so in appropriate ways. Every time they throw a tantrum, it is also an opportunity to teach them how to express their emotion. 

How do kids show a loss of control over emotions? 

Behavior that may seem inappropriate at that point in time is one way for kids to show their emotions. They are unsure about how to express their feelings properly and resort to what can get them attention. 

Pulling their clothes up to cover their face, for instance. 

You may find it strange that a child would put his clothes on his face, especially at social gatherings where you want them to look their best and keep their clothes well.

 Throwing a tantrum over buying something.

Instant gratification!!

As babies, they are most likely used to getting what they want by – mostly food and change of diapers, by crying and bawling aloud. As they get older, they see more of the world and want more. Their instinct is to cry and wait for wish fulfillment.

 

The green-eyed monster turns up wanting attention. Notice how they want attention the moment you give it to someone else?

Babies are possessive as a matter of routine as you have always kept them at the center of the universe. With time, you may be comfortable giving your attention to other things as well, but they notice it and want it back.

It is also a phase of figuring out that they are their own person.

 All animals and toys into the bed. 

While this may be a thing of love, it can also be about fear. Children have their own fears, like when they move to a new place, or when granny leaves after taking care for months.

Regressive behavior.

Potty training may be forgotten in an instant as may be the ability to feed themselves. This may be in reaction to a new baby in the house. 

These are just some general behaviors that are attention seeking but generally toddlers act up when they are overwhelmed with feelings and thoughts they cannot find an appropriate channel for or find hard to express. 

Why do toddlers have meltdowns and tantrums?

A toddler is just learning that he can use words to get what they want.

However, it can be frustrating since the words are not always right given their limited vocabulary. Tummy pain could mean anything from hunger to needing to go to the bathroom to actual stomach ache. 

They did not get the reactions they anticipated. Once they ask for something, they may expect to get it immediately. But the adult may not give it because they do not understand, or they take time with the request, or they think it is not good for the child. Asking for ice cream may stem from hunger and may seem reasonable to a child, but the parent would rather put together a properly balanced meal.

Their attention spans are not long enough, and they may switch on and off and thus not get what they want at the moment. 

How can you help kids vent their emotions? 

Free play and fun are the best ways to take them out of the tantrum.

Play releases hormones say psychologists. So horse around, tickle them or just chase them around and play with them. Soon there will be smiles, and as quickly as the cloud appears, it will clear too.

Venting out emotions is not a bad thing, especially in a safe space. Make sure the child is safe; hold her for comfort if you both wish.

What helps to make it better?

Once you have helped them vent, you need to take corrective action so that it will not happen again. Also, to teach them how to behave in the long run.

Stay calm and soothe them. Once they calm down, you can always reason better.

Above all, remember to keep your sense of humor and the right perspective. No child, not even you, has grown up without a few tantrums along the way.

Understand what they might be trying to say. Burying their face into something is their signal that they are anxious.

Find a way to channel those feelings. As adults, we find more appropriate ways to channel our anxiety like nursing a drink at a party or keeping our hands on our purse, etc. Maybe hugging an animal friend might help relieve stress for kids. 

You can deal with this by letting them take their time to settle in, not pushing them out of their little comfort zones.

It is up to you as an adult to stay calm and try reasoning with them. While it may not work easily, there will be steady progress in time.

The thing is to stick to what you say and not buy instant gratification.

Being calm and being a role model helps.

Do not make the mistake of paying attention to the green-eyed monster.

Reassure them calmly that you still will hear, pay attention, and care for them, but will also pay attention to other people and things.

Again, you need to be consistent to ensure it registers.

 If you sense fear, just ensure that you dispel them gently and calmly.

Keep reiterating that change is not something to be afraid of.

It is the loving hand that shapes the child into a reasonable adult – eventually! Love them, humor them, enjoy their childhood with them despite all the tough times and moments – give yourself some love too. Maybe a thumbs up or two! You are doing the best for your child as a parent!

This post had appeared on our blog earlier. With World Emoji Day, we have added more to the post to make it meaningful. We hope you can post hearts and smileys more often than anything else. Happy every day!  

July 15, 2019 — Suchismita Pai

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