Some days, I feel like there is nothing new under the sun! Do you ever feel that way?
In my 35+ years of practice as a maternal child nurse and reading as much as I do about parenting, this saying keeps resonating in my head…. “what is old is new again”.
We have made so many medical advances and now know how the brain lights up, as seen in a PET scan during moments of happiness, anger, and anxiety. The mind-body-spirit connection has finally been validated.
How does this and how should this affect the parenting of our children, beginning when they are in utero? The soothing of a fetus and newborn is of particular interest to me.
I started to question my love of the Dr. Karp’s 5s’s. My feelings are an echo of what many new moms are feeling…who should moms believe? What philosophy of parenting works?
The “CALMS WAY” is just one of those soothing methods that jumped out of my computer a couple of weeks ago when I was reading a critical review of Dr. Karp’s 5s’s. I am still partial to Dr. Karp but I would try adding “self understanding and self calming to the 5s’s .
Tantrums are not easy to deal with…even though you love your child and grandchild to the moon and back!
During a tantrum you might want to send them to the moon!
It sometimes can seem that they are possessed by something or someone when having a tantrum…but who or what has set this usually charming child into an uncontrollable rage?
We have experienced our share of tantrums in our house…and what I have learned as a grandmother I only wish that I knew as a mom of two children less than two years apart in age.
There is always one or two events that stand out in the family tantrum history…one was my own memory of tearing a newspaper to shreds when my working mother told me she had not brought me home anything from work that evening. I was not so much spoiled as I was unhappy that she forgotten about me. I was left alone until I calmed down and the paper was completely shredded.
With my own kids…the sentinel tantrum was one at the entrance to the Miami Zoo when my younger daughter did not want to go and see any animals. She was around 3 years old. We were hoping to have a family outing on a very hot Miami day.
I recall trying the old standby…”bye, we are leaving…you can stay here if you want”. Is that wishful thinking on the part of parents during a horrible tantrum.
Of course, nothing worked until she was ready to put her anger aside after what seemed an eternity. We then visited a pond where the resident Koi made us all laugh as they fought over food that visitors were encouraged to throw into theirwater. It was the Koi version of ‘Hunger Games“.
Usually temper tantrums and anger in children is induced by stress. Young children do not know how to handle stress and do not have the verbal skills to explain why they are so upset.
Even if they try to tell a grown up …commonly it is about something that many times parents do not have patience to listen to nor attempt to understand.
I am no different. At least I wasn’t when my kids were young.
Anger in children often comes from stress. Yes. Stress is part of a child’s life as much as it is a part of an adult’s life. Teaching a child how to handle stress is one of the best things we as parents can do for our children. A healthy dose of stress actually builds resilience …and optimism. At the same time, parents must also be aware that anger is a sign of child anxieties. There are ways to address child anxieties.
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re faced with a child in the throes of a tantrum, no matter what the cause, is simple and crucial: Keep cool. Don’t complicate the problem with your own frustration. Kids can sense when parents are becoming frustrated. This can just make their frustration worse, and you may have an escalated tantrum on your hands. Instead, take deep breaths and try to think clearly. via Temper Tantrums.
Dr. Karp’s advice is simple and easy to follow. It is called the “fast food rule“
Follow the Fast-Food Rule. This rule is simple: When your child is upset, you should take a lesson from the order-takers at a burger joint — always repeat back his “order” (what he wants) before you tell him your “price” (what you want). Toddlers who are in the middle of a meltdown are incapable of hearing our message (our reasons, reassurance, distraction or warning) until they’re sure we understand and respect their message. So when your tot is upset, before you mention your ideas, take a minute to sincerely describe what he’s doing and how you think he feels.
Janet Lansbury who writes her own blog has this to say to a mom regarding tantrums. In this particular situation there is a ‘new baby’ that a toddler is trying to accept.
Don’t feel responsible when your daughter doesn’t get her way and falls apart…. What she needs most of all (especially right now) are confident, stable, unruffled parents who project calm in the face of her storms (and the freedom you are giving her to have them).
Clarify the situation and make a plan. During more peaceful moments together, talk about life after new baby. Give her details about the changes that will occur, an imagined play-by-play of the day with the new baby. Be honest and realistic. Toddlers are way too perceptive to believe any whitewashing, and that won’t help her feel settled. Tell her that although you will be very busy taking care of the baby and not be available for her all the time, you’ll make sure she always gets what she needs (through daddy, grandma, etc.). Tell her that you two will have some special time together each day and maybe once (or twice) a week a special outing that she picks.
Then, later, when you are busy with the baby and she’s upset you can say to her calmly and confidently, “I know you want me to do such-in-such with you now, but I can’t. I know it’s hard to wait, but we will have our time together in an hour (or whatever). I’m looking forward to it.” She may have to keep testing that limit until she is certain you will hold your ground.
If you can make the outings work, I highly recommend them, even if you can only give her a choice between a walk down the street and a half-hour outing to the park. It’s not about what you do (or even the amount of time), just about being together. From my experience, those little one-on-one dates with your big girl will be very special, just the way dinner dates with a husband feel extra special once you’ve become parents.
Encourage her to process the feelings. Another thing to do in peaceful moments together is to check in with her about her feelings. The goal is not to get her to label them, but to assure her that anything and everything she is feeling is normal, expected, perfectly all right. You might put it this way, “When children have a baby brother or sister they have all kinds of feelings.
The trick in getting a tantrum to end as soon as possible, Potegal said, was to get the child past the peaks of anger. Once the child was past being angry, what was left was sadness, and sad children reach out for comfort. The quickest way past the anger, the scientists said, was to do nothing. Of course, that isnt easy for parents or caregivers to do.
Forget everything you may have read about coping with children‘s temper tantrums. Time-outs, sticker charts, television denial—for many, none of these measures will actually result in long-term behavior change, according to researchers at two academic institutions.
Instead, a set of techniques known as “parent management training” is proving so helpful to families struggling with a child’s unmanageable behavior that clinicians in the U.S. and the U.K. are starting to adopt them.
Parents can control bad behavior if they are consistent with their approach to their child’s meltdowns.
This is not easy and many parents may become frustrated and revert to their “old” approaches before they actually see positive results.
My personal favorite book on the subject of children’s behavior especially that of toddlers is “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp. It is easy to read and follow…my copy is totally dog-eared. I absolutely endorse his “Fast Food Response” to the toddler’s demanding demons.
You see, he says…toddlers lack the maturity and sometimes I do as well, to express what they really want …so a tantrum is the best way to get it.
Dr. Karp tells us to verbally recognize what the child actually wants…this usually gets the toddler to respond by suddenly stopping in his tracks…this is the time to inject some choices (not too many) or an alternative.
Why this works? Simple… it disarms the child…he gets his needs validated, understood and respected.
Really it works…I have tried it.
Dr. Karp makes a point here though, that is very important….if the toddler is doing something dangerous…you cannot use this approach…you must remove him from the unsafe situation and then move into the “FFR” (Fast Food Response)
So, there is hope for tantrums…remember “meltdowns are not pleasant for the child either.
Be patient and consistent and get help, you will probably need it…but trust me, it will be worth the effort in the end.