Who hasn't experienced a terrible "tantrum momentum" from their children? And who would do anything to make this moments go away? Yes.. me too! Well... there happens to be solution. A smart reaction that can actually turn the drama into opportunity. It's fairly easy and I will share it with you today!
If you are a parent of young children I'm sure you have experienced this crazy moments where you feel your "angel child" has suddenly transformed into a "mini-monster."
Why do toddlers have recurrent tantrums even without reasons?
It turns out children's brains work differently than ours. (Of course they do!) There are many books that explain how children behave and think. According to one of them ("The whole-brain child" J.Siegel Daniel and Tina Payne.) one of the main and most common reasons why our kids come into reactions of anger, tantrums, exaggerated sadness and stress, is for a mental state that they call HALT: Hungry- Angry- Lonely -Tired.
When kids enter this mental state, no logic or reason applies. This means if we want them out of that drama, we first have to take their mind out of that state. Get it?
Understanding and applying this simple concept can transform your family dynamic and help your children grow more confident and happy.
Imagine you find yourself in a situation where your child is acting crazy, aggressively or dramatically. Instead of acting the same way too. Outsmart your reaction! Keep calm, breath and remember the word "HALT".
HALT (Hungry Angry Lonely Tired) will most likely be the cause of getting children into a mental state prone to incomprehensible behavior.
Think back a little and figure out if the reason why your child is acting that way it's because of HALT: meaning hungry, angry about something that happened in the day, feeling lonely or just tired.
If so, and knowing that the he is acting like this (not because he is a bad child) because he is hungry or tired, then your reaction will be completely different.
Let me give you an example:
Last summer my 5 year old son, Pierre, came home very tired from summer camp, he walked directly to his room to play without saying much. When I called him to the table he sat down stared at his plate (chicken,rice,avocado) and gave me a terrible look. Very upset and almost crying with anger he told me he did not want the avocado diced but smashed! and he would not eat anything! He folded his arms and crawled under the table.
I asked him to sit in his chair and eat. I repeated this several times louder and louder, until I was about to loose my patience and scream to him to just go to his room without eating!!!
Instead I kept my cool and breathed deeply. Then I remembered HALT! I went one by one in my head wondering if Pierre had any of this conditions: Was he Hungry? : Of course he was! He had just eaten breakfast and it was now 3pm! Angry? : Yes because I made him stop playing in his room to come to the table. Lonely? : I do not think so, but Tired: one hundred percent!
My son at that time had 3 of the 4 main reasons for that type of reactions!
Knowing this I CHOSE to act with patience and love, instead of screams and punishments. I chose to transform the situation in a way that would be much better for both.
First I had to get his mind out of that state. I kneeled down and grabbed his arm trying to tranquilize him: "I'm sure you must feel very hungry and tired after a whole day doing sports under the sun. And you know what? I do prefer the smashed avocado myself too, it just tastes better! Come here, sit down and let's smash that green little thing together!" This words make Pierre feel understood and loved. He relaxes and smiles. (His mind is now on another state) He sits down in front of his plate and I begin recalling a memory of a vacation we had weeks before where his cousin was making us laugh. This keeps turning his mental focus to a more positive state. After a few minutes he is smiling, fully relax and enjoying his food!
It's important to know that: Anger creates more anger. Imagine just for a moment, that I had reacted differently and had screamed sending Pierre to his room without eating, so he "learns" to behave better next time. This would only have made him feel even more tired, hungry, angry and alone. It would have generated in him a feeling of loneliness and lack of support from which he most needed it!
Children are not bad, or throw tantrums just because they want to be rebellious and punished. They are intelligent and sentient beings who depend on us to feel safe and supported. I assure you, love and respect will accomplish much more than the punishments and threats.
Next time you see yourself in a tantrum moment, don't react, just remember HALT.
Thank you for your time and comments!