On this episode, I am talking to Shauna Hibbitts from eNannylink and getting the best advice on how to diffuse tantrums.
She is one of my favorite people that I met in a Facebook group last year. This is our second collaboration since doing Story Time with Mrs. Shuana.
Shauna is very qualified to speak on this topic as she has over 20 years of experience with early childhood education and caring for over 10,000 children.
As a mother of a two and five-year-old, tantrums are something I deal with on a daily basis. So, I know the struggle. But I don’t know the best ways to diffuse tantrums. That is why I had to bring Shauna here!
Here are Shauna’s simple steps on how to diffuse tantrums.
Step one – stay calm
“The first thing you want to do is remain calm.” I know. When I heard this all I could think about is my mom telling me to count to ten.
Shauna explains that you want your child to model your behavior. So it is important to remain calm when the tantrums start. Your calmness may also give your child comfort.
Remember mom, think happy thoughts.
“And so what you don’t want to do, which is kind of hard to do because I’ve done it as a mom, is matching their energy.”
Step two – find out why your child is throwing a tantrum
“So, then the next thing is you want to think about is why they’re having tantrums.”
Here is a list from Shauna on why a child may throw a tantrum.
A lack of language
Your little one could be just frustrated because they couldn’t get their point across or didn’t feel like they were understood. So, they had a tantrum.
Shauna explains that it’s okay to help your little one by giving them words, especially if they don’t have language because of their age.
Some of the things that you can say are:
“You’re okay, you’re just upset because I took your toy”
“Mommy said not to throw it and you through it. So I had to take it.”
Giving your child the language helps your child understand what’s going on and what’s happening around them.
Dealing with power struggles
Power struggles can happen with or without a lack of language. They can also happen as a result of feeling overwhelmed or having a lack of power. As a result, your child will try to seek power.
You may see these power struggles happen in older children as well.
Not feeling well
If your child is not feeling well because they are sick or just ate something that didn’t sit well with them then it could be a trigger for a tantrum.
Lack of sleep
I know when I don’t get enough sleep I can be cranky. Just imagine how a sleep deprived kid can act. Even being late for nap time can trigger tantrums.
Missing snack time or eating meals later than scheduled can cause your child to get hungry and possibly trigger a tantrum.
“Like it could be hot, cold or maybe a part of their clothing got wet some kind of way.” Being uncomfortable can cause your child to get easily agitated and start a tantrum.
Step three – establish routine and activities
Having activities for your child is key to preventing tantrums.
“So say for instance, you’re going to the doctor’s office and you know, it may be a moment, you know, you want to make sure you carry some books or you can have access to puzzles like at home or put music on any calming activity, pull out the yoga and start doing some yoga moves.”
Keeping your child occupied is helpful. But occupied without electronics is important.
“You really are coaching them and managing them. They have to learn how to internalize and have to process their feelings and understand what they need to do when they need something.”
Shauna’s best advice for the child that whines everyday
For the child that is whining and throwing tantrums daily tell your child, “when you’re done whining or when you’re done having a tantrum, call me, I’ll come over here and then we can finish this activity. But right now mommy’s gonna go over here and wash the dishes.”
You then need to calm yourself down because the tantrums and whining will persist until they calm down.
Or you can say “Once you’ve calmed down and can use your five-year-old voice then we can talk.”
My personal favorite is when a child is whining and Shauna tells them “I’m sorry. I can’t understand that. That hurts my ears.”
Doing this will help your child get that their behavior is unacceptable and keeps you a happy mom.
As parents, we want to help and try to solve everything for our kids. We often feel guilty when we don’t try to solve all of their problems.
This only sets kids to whinny preteens and teenagers. Ignoring your child when they are whining can be hard. But teaching your child how to self-soothe is critical.
“Part of self-soothing is learning how to play by yourself” Shauna explains that cooperative play, fun time, and play dates are great. But there also needs to be a part of the day for what Shauna likes to call, solo play.
Solo play is the time where you can let your child have fun on their own.
Once she started explaining solo play I realized I do this on the weekends when I am doing laundry. I bring toys and put them on the floor for my little guys to play with by themselves. In the meantime, I am a few steps away folding laundry and listening to my favorite podcast.
But many times they end up fighting with each other because the two-year-old is going through a phase of just taking whatever he wants even if your in the middle of playing or using what he wants.
Shauna mentions that kids that don’t do a lot of solo play become dependent on “screens and total adult interaction all day long.” This is a problem for kids growing up because this is not how the real world operates.
“You have to be able to take care of yourself and navigate and be self-sufficient and part of that it has to start when they’re young because if not they become dependent upon those things and they take that into their teens in their tweens.”