Toddler tantrums. It happens to all of us. That moment when your toddler “loses it” in public. You feel frustrated, embarrassed and totally at a loss to know what to do.
Your toddler is expressing some really big feelings here. They’ve probably been sending out signals for a while, but in your need to focus on other tasks, its easy to miss them. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you have a toddler lying on the floor, kicking and screaming.
Seeing, Feeling, Needing
What if if I said that your toddler’s behaviour is bringing you a message?
Let’s explore this behaviour, by trying to understand the message that might be behind it.
What are you seeing?
A child lying on the floor kicking and screaming. That’s easy!
What might your child be feeling?
There could be any number of emotions here, but happy, safe, secure are probably not among them. It’s more likely that your child is feeling anxious, rejected, ignored, tired or simply overwhelmed at the end of a busy day.
What might your child need?
This is where the Circle of Security Parenting early intervention concept comes in handy. This is a relationship-based early intervention parenting program designed to help build connection and understanding.
Your child is seeking to reconnect with you. If we look at this behaviour as your child’s way of communicating something, we can see that they need your help to organise some really big feelings. Once you are able to recognise this, you will be able to reconnect.
There’s been a rupture in your connection, and your child felt this. Now it it is time to repair, by “being with” your child in their distress. Easier said than done when you are feeling frustrated, stressed, embarrassed…
Before you can really be able to support your child, it is necessary to be emotionally present yourself. One way to do this is to take some deep belly breaths, exhaling slowly. As you do this, you should feel the tension being released from your body.
Now you are ready to help your child to regulate their behaviour, by “being with” them in their distress. Not only will your calmer state help them to become calm, they will be learning from your role modelling. Children are great little imitators. You have probably often noticed them imitating your words and mannerisms, and this is no different.
Parenting challenges happen to us all, and there is no blame or shame attached. Your parenting styles probably follow the way you were parented, and you may be subconsciously repeating patterns from your own childhood.
It’s never too late to change.