Children with big emotions can be a struggle. Emotional outbursts or tantrums can lead to frustration, exhaustion or feeling depleted. When an emotional outbursts hit, we tend to want to fight against them. This tends to add fuel to the fire resulting in power struggles. This can also lead to the child feeling detached and resentment towards the parent. In his book Unconditional Parenting, Alfie Kohn explains practical ways to create loving attachment while setting expectations and raising responsible children.
The goal for parents should be to set limits, teach the child how to appropriately handle emotions, and maintain a secure connection. Parents can achieve this by doing the following:
Here is a few examples of directions to give when a child is experiencing an emotional outburst:
“I hear how mad you are.”
“No hitting, no kicking”
“You can show me how mad you are by stomping your feet or using your words”
“We can talk when you're calm.”
All of these phrases, validate what the child is feeling but helps direct their behaviors to be more appropriate.
If your child displays violent or frequent tantrums, a mental health professional can assist you to create an individualized plan to deal with your child's tantrums.
Amanda Be, LMSW, MBA is owner and counselor at Supportive Counseling Services in Grosse Pointe, MI. Amanda has been a practicing clinical social worker since 2005. She is passionate about helping others lead happier, more successful lives through her private practice, advocacy and volunteer work. Amanda’s main objective is to support others during life’s challenges and hopes these blogs will help. She writes and speaks on topics for parents, counselors and educators.