🤱"How To Manage Tantrums In Public"

(5 Minute Read) Managing tantrums got a lot easier when I learned this! 😅

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“He kicked me, and I thought I was going to lose it.” As this mama shared her experience of attempting to leave the park on a warm South Texas day with her toddler, I thought about all the things that could have happened after the first sign of aggression. I recalled my own experiences of trying to leave the park with two toddlers who weren’t having it. To say it’s challenging is an understatement.

This mama explained how she knew she was running low on capacity. It was hot and she was sweaty, lunch time had already passed, and on this day it was particularly overstimulating being at the park. What she shared next shocked me.

“I no longer felt the need to control the situation or how he was feeling. I was able to just be with him through that moment.” The peace that overcame this mother as she shared a recent win in our client session was something I felt deeply. It’s the reason I do this work—I truly believe that all families deserve to thrive and am passionate about making that a reality for them.

This mama and I had been working on tools to help her regulate her emotions during toddler tantrums & meltdowns when her fuse was short. She had consistently practiced box breathing, checking in with herself throughout the day to gauge her capacity, and felt ready to move on to helping her child regulate now that she felt secure in her ability to hold space for their big feelings.

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This new skill that she was ready to dive into is known as co-regulation. It’s when you’re able to access your inner-calm and inner-safety, and are ready to support your child through their big feelings. It’s not about calming them down or distracting them so they stop the behavior. Co-regulation is about supporting them to feel safe expressing a wide spectrum of emotions, which then leads to them being able to access their inner-calm.

You’re probably wondering, How the heck do you do that?! I used to wonder the same thing, and the good news is, if you read part 1 you’re already on your way there! Before you can support your child, you must support yourself first. This will ensure you have the space in your cup for them to pour out their big emotions into. If your emotional cup is overflowing with your stuff, you won’t have space for theirs. (You can find more tools in last week’s article: Managing Tantrums When You’re Triggered.)

Once you’ve been able to access your inner-calm and your cup has space for their emotions, you’re able to support them. Most parents, including myself, default to words—we try to rationalize with them, tell them to breathe, ask questions, etc. However, before they get to a place where they can hear us, we first need to get them out of that fight or flight mode. You can do this through a variety of sensory calming tools, that can be done solo or together. This part will take some experimenting to see what your child is most receptive to.

This might look like you modeling your own deep breathing, holding them and swaying, doing bicycle legs with them, or growling together. If you have taken time to practice some sensory calming tools with your child outside of the moment, you might model the action (versus telling them) as a cue for them to follow your lead. This could look like you stomping your feet, throwing softballs at the wall, or sound like humming a tune.

*Please give a gentle round of applause too…*

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By: Leslie Hannans

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When your child is open to you talking, keep your voice low and slow, acknowledging and validating their experience. I often use phrases like: “That must have been really [hard/scary/frustrating] for you” or “I know you really wanted ____.” The validation often leads to openness for connection (not to be confused with ready for what my dad would call a “teaching moment”).

In these moments, it can be easy to let your fear take over. You might be worried that this moment means your child will always be aggressive or that this moment will last forever. What you feel is valid, AND you are capable of supporting them through this moment. These skills will take practice, but with time you will notice that the moment passes quickly, and what you thought was aggression turns into healthy ways of managing their big emotions.

Remember, there’s no playbook for parenting. What works well for one child might look different for another. Use this as a guide to help you try things out to see what works best for your family. If you’re looking for some additional tools to support yourself at the moment, You can grab my FREE Calm Mom Kit below for some of my clients’ favorite grounding tools I teach.

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