Let’s say your kid has a habit of throwing temper tamtrums, how do you handle it? This can be one of the hardest things for parents to handle. Let’s talk about it.
How to handle a 7-year-old who throws tantrums? Sometimes temper tantrums are from emotion unintelligence. Let your child work through their emotions and then teach them what they can do. Do not shove their emotions under the rug. Create goals and work on skills to become emotionally mature with your child.
Temper tantrums can some of the most embarrassing things. It is loud and it’s obvious. It makes one feel like they don’t have control of their child which can be really humbling. How can we fix this?
What are Temper Tantrums?
Have you ever been at a store and just seen some kid fall apart? We’ve all been to Walmart or the local grocery store. We all know that this happens. Sometimes you just feel bad for the mom or dad. You wipe your brow and think, “yeah, I’m glad that is not me.”
Whatever the case, temper tantrums happen.
Most of the time when people think of temper tantrums, they think of the kids who act out to get they want. You know the ones. The ones that will
I want to speak on the subject of children who actually struggle with handling their emotions and not those that act out to get what they want.
A reason why children could start having temper tantrums is that they were never taught not to. A big reason is that they are not taught how to handle their emotions. I am not saying that it needs to be
Children need to be taught how to be emotionally mature. This is crucial for them to learn how to curb their temper. Sometimes emotions are just out of whack because your child is tired or hungry or it just happens.
A young child really enjoys stability. They are vulnerable and they need that stability to fall back on. If the child is emotionally unstable, they can suffer.
If that child goes into a situation that they do not recognize or a part of their day that is not routine, they began to go into “fight or flight” mode.
A response to this is crying. Now crying isn’t a way to attack but it attention-grabbing and it tugs at every mother’s heartstrings for miles around when they hear such a sound.
As a parent, walking your child through an emotional cooldown and talking to is one of the most important things a parent can do for their child at this moment. It establishes trust and comfort for the child to know that their parent(s) are there to help them.
Let me explain more of why this is a real thing and not just a tactic used by at kids.
A child who is falling apart is not always like the ones at the store. It is not a flailing of arms and wailing. That can happen but that is not always the case.
Sometimes the child just can’t handle a situation and freezes up. They are struggling to see how they can even make it through this experience. Sometimes fear just takes control of the child.
All of these things and more are something called “amygdala hijacking.”
We have another post that goes more in depth about this subject. If you want to know more, click here.
Daniel Goleman, a psychologist, coined the term. He believed that despite how far we have come as a species, we still have a primal instinct of “fight or flight.”
That term is very popular and it is known by many people. I think one of the reasons why it is so popular is because we all understand it and have felt it in ourselves.
If you aren’t a neurosurgeon, you might be wondering what or where the amygdala is located. The same post I linked to above has the information.
Basically what you need to know about the amygdala is that it is connected to the fear circuit in your brain. It is also involved in memories and storing them.
How to Fight Against the Hijacking
Emotional intelligence. That is the key. I am pulling a quote from the other post because I love it so much:
This quote just brings it all into perspective. Do you want to know how to fight emotional outbursts? Emotional intelligence.
Teaching a child emotional intelligence is one of the most important things that you can do. I’m going to share some personal examples from my own life.
A have a younger sister who growing up was always in a fight or flight mode. We always felt like something or someone was trying to attack her. Fortunately, my mom has been working with her and she has gotten much better as she has gotten older.
I remember frequently that she and I didn’t agree on things. I was the older sibling and she was younger, therefore I was in charge. I remember many times where we would yell at each other or she would not like what I was doing.
Many times she would get upset and it would take literal hours for her to get over it. She would cry non stop for many hours after the incident. You could try to console her or talk to her and it would not work.
Shes become more reasonable over the years so it’s been easier to sit with her and talk her through her feelings.
There are a couple of things I want to touch on about the experiences that I think might help when it comes to coping with amygdala hijacking.
Grappling with Amygdala Hijacking
This is the part where we talk about our actions involving amygdala hijacking. Let’s get our hands dirty.
Before you do anything, you need to figure out your own struggles. If you are not willing to learn how to cope with emotions or struggles, how in the world are you going to help your own child?
Another equally important thing is validating your child’s emotions. I don’t mean like “it’s going to be okay” or “You’ll be alright.” This does not show that you are interested in how you are feeling. Your child will see through this facade.
Be honest. “honey, I know that you are feeling scared right now. Let’s talk about it.” Don’t try to tell your child that they are not feeling anything or that what they are feeling is not important.
One great thing you can do with your son or daughter is to take them aside and take deep breathes with them. Teach them how to take a moment in and analyze it.
With deep breathing, it allows them to think. This will help to calm them but also over time, it will help your child to see that situations really are not as scary as it might seem.
Along with this idea, is that you can sit with them and teach how they can identify the emotions and problems that they are having. Teach them to pinpoint what the problem is and how it can be resolved. This is also a great distraction from their “fight or flight” bells going off.
Something else you can do is give your kid a break. Have a break and even maybe have a KitKat (I wonder when that jingle will be out of traction and this joke will be obsolete).
But in all honesty, give your child a break. It’s not about giving them a timeout or secluding them like a punishment. Sometimes the best teacher is themselves and that is all they need. Allow them that time to analyze and calm down.
After the outburst or whatever happens, you need to talk to them about what happened. It is “the post-game talk.” Ask them what emotions they felt. Where they scared? Did they feel trapped? Did someone bother them? All of these are important for you as a parent to understand.
Walks through what happened and talk about how the both of your can combat it in the future. Create your gameplan.
You should know your child better than anyone and that is a great way to do it. You are the literal first aid to your child. You are there on the scene when the action happens.
Let’s talk about channeling positive emotion and emotional maturity.
Teaching Emotional Maturity
The first step in emotional maturity is understanding and accepting emotions for what they are.
You might be interested in looking up the Feelings Wheel created by Dr. Gloria Willcox. It shows the base emotions and which other emotions break off of them. It can be a great reference for emotions.
One way you can teach your child to understand emotion is by saying things that acknowledge your child’s feelings. For example, when your child is angry, you could say, “You look unhappy.” I’m sure you could figure out what to do with other emotions.
Don’t just tell your child how they should act. Lecturing about emotions does not help. Ask them questions. Ask them how they would resolve the situation. Empowering your child to solve their own emotions is so important. I can’t say that enough.
Another thing you can do is help your child to notice the emotions of others and ask questions about why they are acting like that and how one could help. This helps your child develop empathy.
Teaching your child to recognize the emotions of others will greatly increase their emotional maturity. According to Psychology Today, when parents read a book or otherwise talk to their children about how other children feel, their positive social actions increase and aggression towards others decreases.
Children can sense how you feel. It’s kind of crazy. They know how you are feeling and you can’t hide that. Because of that, it’s important for you to have emotional maturity.
How many times have you seen kids get upset because those around them are as well, but it was not manifested until the child got upset? It happens and so when it comes to teaching your child, your example is half the battle.
I would guess that a child will learn to be only as emotionally mature as a parent as long as they are with them. But there could be other circumstances outside of my knowledge.
Understanding Emotional Intelligence
I think there is this idea out there that emotional maturity means never feeling sad or upset. Emotional maturity does not mean that you’re always smiling.
If you’ve seen Inside-Out, the Pixar/Disney movie about emotions, you will notice that they touch on the fact that you need all emotions to learn and grow. I would highly recommend this movie to teach your child about emotions.
There is a part where Joy, one of the emotions re-imagined as a character, is trying to push down the problem that made the little girl’s imaginary friend sad. Sadness shows what she is really capable of and consoles the imaginary friend. You see, Sadness has empathy. Something that joy lacked.
In this was teaching your children that all emotions are good and they have their place. There are no bad emotions. Each emotion has their own place. Anger and disgust can help us avoid situations we don’t want to be in. Sadness can give us time to reflect on our lives and what we are doing.
Teach your children that there are no “bad” emotions.
Signs of Emotional Maturity
These are some ideas of how to notice that your child is growing in emotional maturity. If these things are taught, your child will be that much better off.
When Things Go Wrong, They Stand Up to the Challenge
Sometimes life just slaps you in the face. You can’t avoid it. When something goes wrong is your child’s life, how do they react? If they meet the challenge and make it through and own it, they are gaining emotional maturity.
If they blame somebody else or something else, they are stilling learning how to overcome their emotional shortcomings.
They Don’t Treat Themselves as Victims
In a similar vein, if your child doesn’t act like their world is falling apart, then they are growing emotionally. All of these can apply to adults too but I’m simplifying them for children.
Many people grow up thinking they are the victim when they make poor choices. Teaching children to own their choices can curb this mentality real quick.
Teach your children to not be victims by holding them accountable. Being accountable will also make them happier and more accomplished. This is the kind of person who will make a difference in society.
They Build Strong Relationships
If your child builds strong, productive relationships, that is an indication of strong emotional maturity. This is a two-way street obviously because the other kid has to be invested too.
If a child doesn’t hold friendship well, it may be that they tantrums handle other people well. They probably haven’t learned to understand the emotions of others which you can teach them to notice.
In a relationship, they can compromise. They work together to find solutions that benefit both sides. They desire to find a win-win solution. This is a great sign of emotional maturity.
At what age should a child stop having tantrums? Some say around ages 3 to 6. It can last longer. It will be different with every child. Some will continue to throw tantrums even after being a toddler because they are tired, hungry, etc.
They use the same logic they did as a toddler. Sometimes around the age of seven, they are experimenting and testing you and your authority.
How can I help my child with meltdowns? I would give them a lot of positive response. I know that this can be hard when they are yelling or otherwise causing a nuisance. Teach your child skills in emotional regulation and help them develop that skills.
If your child is falling apart to challenge you or get you to buy something they want, let them cry. Let them look stupid or take them to the car. This will teach them that you are in charge and you won’t be challenged.
How do you increase emotional maturity in a child? Validate your child’s perspective and thoughts. Be honest and empathize where you can. Build trust with your child. You are their first responder when they are scared. They turn to you.
Allow your child to express themselves. Do not shut them down. That would be a terrible idea. You want them to be comfortable with you and trust you with their emotions.
Listen to what they feel and validate them. When your child is freaking out inside, they need someone to turn to. They need you.