Here at BEABA, we’ve decided to ask Parenting Coach Kacie Ellis some rapid-fire advice for when it comes to tantrums and discipline. See below for Tantrums & Discipline: Advice from a Parenting Coach.
Best Advice for Handling Tantrums?
The best thing you can do when your child tantrums is to stay calm, hold space for their emotion, and allow the feeling to be expressed. Oftentimes we parents want it to stop because it triggers us, we don’t want to listen to it, we’re in public and we don’t want to cause a scene, etc. There are two ways most parents handle it. 1. We try to dismiss the feeling “It’s ok. No need to get upset. We can rebuild the castle” Or 2. We rush to problem-solving & teaching without letting the emotion be fully expressed. When the child is in the feelings part of their brain, they can’t problem-solve or really learn what you’re trying to teach. So next time your child throws a tantrum.
- Hold space for their emotion. Allow them to feel and express without judgment.
- Empathize & validate. Give their feeling a name. Show understanding of how they feel to help them feel heard and understood “You worked hard building that castle. How disappointing that it got knocked down.” Sometimes your child might be too upset to hear what you’re saying. In that case, continue to hold space & show your child you’re there for them through touch (hug or holding) or through your physical presence (in the same room as them but no contact) – some kids need space to process.
- Offer calming tools they can use. But remember with younger children especially, they often need to just be allowed to feel their feelings to the end, without feeling the need to use a calming tool to please their parents. As they work through emotion in its entirety, they will begin to learn how to self-regulate.
- Don’t move on to problem-solving & teaching until the emotion is fully expressed until you see that your child is no longer in the feelings part of the brain & that they are now in the thinking part of their brain. If you begin to problem solve & your child starts to “lose it” again, start back at 1.
- Don’t give in to your child’s wants to make the tantrum stop. That will just teach them that tantrums is a way to get what they want. Instead, do the above steps and when your child is calm, you can teach them how to appropriately ask for what they want, win-win negotiate or redirect to another activity.
The key is to not rush the process. You can say all the right words, but if your goal is to simply stop the expression of emotions instead of to understand & empathize, your child will feel the difference. Approach your child’s tantrum with the goal of understanding them better and of allowing them to get out the emotions that they need to release, & you will see a difference.
Best Advice for Disciplining Your Kids?
The key to discipline is to focus on how you can improve future behavior, rather than punishing for past behavior. In my parenting course, Family Elements, I teach 6 ways to discipline in a way that will improve your child’s future behavior, while teaching them self-reflection, self-control, and self-responsibility. The discipline methods I teach will develop a child’s internal control and internal motivation to do what’s right because it feels right to them, not out of fear of getting in trouble. One of my favorites is inviting your child to do make-up. We all make mistakes and it’s what we do after the mistake that counts. It’s important because it allows your child to get back in integrity with himself and others. For example, one of my daughters hit her sister, so she drew a picture using her sister’s favorite colors as make-up to help make her sister feel better.
You can check out more parenting content from Ellis on her website Element of Ellis.
At BEABA, you can catch more advice from Kacie over on our blog, “Parenting During Quarantine Q&A w/ a Parent Coach.” (link when posted.)