Toddler tantrums. It happens to all of us. That moment when your toddler completely “loses it”. 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?
Your child is seeking to reconnect with you. If we look at toddler tantrums 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.
Repairing the Rupture
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.
Changing Behaviour through Closer Connections
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.
A child’s behaviour often seems to change magically when parents are able to address the tensions and stresses in their own lives.
It’s never too late to change.
Circle of Security Parenting
You might also like to consider the internationally recognised Circle of Security Parenting program. This is an 8 week relationship-based early intervention parenting program. Feedback from parents in my classes has been very positive.
It is designed to help build connection and understanding, and can be offered either individually, or in small groups.
The Next Step
If you would like some help in dealing with your child’s toddler tantrums, the next step is to book in for an initial parent consultation. Depending on underlying issues, you may notice changes after just two or three sessions.
It’s never too late to help your child, but is is much easier when they are younger, before secondary issues such as poor self esteem, anxiety, anger and frustration start to creep in.
My aim is to help you raise happy, healthy children who are able to realise their potential and find their place in the world.
A PACFA accredited Holistic Counsellor and Psychotherapist, Rosalind is also a Registered NDIS Provider, Circle of Security Facilitator and approved Victims Services Counsellor.
Sessions are available in person at Moruya South Head, and online via zoom.