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Anonymous 

My two-and-a-half year-old has started having the most wild tantrums - crying, screaming, lashing out and refusing to do anything. How can I stay calm during them, and avoid getting upset and angry myself?

TOP RESPONSE
Let's Ask Livvy 
Staying calm when our kids are tantrumming can be a real challenge - you are certainly not alone there. Tantrums and the lead up to tantrums can be hugely frustrating, even annoying at times and many parents I speak to find it hard to control their own emotions or watch their child tantrum when they seem so genuinely upset. Tantrums are an essential developmental phase that help our kids learn about boundaries, negotiation, following rules and instructions etc. Tantrums usually serve quite a clear behaviour function and are often maintained by the attention they get - be it positive or negative. Staying calm can be helped by trying to work out what is causing the tantrum- are there any triggers, likely tantrum times etc? working out the triggers can help us prepare and be one step ahead and this then helps to reduce certain stress factors while working through the behaviours. Without knowing more about the specifics offering an effective strategy for you is tricky- so you might want to drop me an email with some more details- but having a clear script that you stick to when working through the tantrum can really help- this means that you can disengage slighlty and having a script helps reduce rising emotions and frustrations. Clear and consistent boundaries are also essential- when kids know the intensity of their tantrums can alter what happens and shift a boundary it shows them that this is an effective way to communicate their anger or frustration. Developmentally tantrums happen at a time when our kids understanding of language far exceeds their spoken language, so communicating using their nice words when they feel frustrated is more challenging. Emotions are a tricky thing to learn and it is important for emotional development to teach our kids it is ok to feel cross, angry, frustrated is ok - but these emotions need to be expressed in an appropriate way. Try not not give to much attention to the tantrum itself - so language like come on don't be silly, or you're being really naughty, you can't be cross etc can sometimes fuel a tantrum. Using a phrase like "I understand you're cross but hitting is not ok" gives less attention to the hitting and helps or kids understand about their feelings and behaviours. If you give me some more details of when tantrums occur and how a typical tantrum pans out I can give more specific strategies. Hope this helps.
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Mike Tantrum 
Hi Anon. That sounds very tough. We often have questions about tantrums on the Brain but they are usually about how to deal with the kid directly, so I think this is a very interesting question. Do you find yourself getting upset every time, or every now and again? I fear the solution may be in some cases to deal with the tantrum (some useful links to previous threads below with advice from our experts) and other times to just to let it run its course. Indeed, a common point that comes up is not to focus attention on a kid when they're having a tantrum, as it can often make things worse (and causes you even more stress). https://tantrum.xyz/parentingBrain/question/135 https://tantrum.xyz/parentingBrain/question/146 https://tantrum.xyz/parentingBrain/question/172 I really like this question and just asked another of our team members and she just said "This is why mums drink wine". 🍷
Let's Ask Livvy 
Staying calm when our kids are tantrumming can be a real challenge - you are certainly not alone there. Tantrums and the lead up to tantrums can be hugely frustrating, even annoying at times and many parents I speak to find it hard to control their own emotions or watch their child tantrum when they seem so genuinely upset. Tantrums are an essential developmental phase that help our kids learn about boundaries, negotiation, following rules and instructions etc. Tantrums usually serve quite a clear behaviour function and are often maintained by the attention they get - be it positive or negative. Staying calm can be helped by trying to work out what is causing the tantrum- are there any triggers, likely tantrum times etc? working out the triggers can help us prepare and be one step ahead and this then helps to reduce certain stress factors while working through the behaviours. Without knowing more about the specifics offering an effective strategy for you is tricky- so you might want to drop me an email with some more details- but having a clear script that you stick to when working through the tantrum can really help- this means that you can disengage slighlty and having a script helps reduce rising emotions and frustrations. Clear and consistent boundaries are also essential- when kids know the intensity of their tantrums can alter what happens and shift a boundary it shows them that this is an effective way to communicate their anger or frustration. Developmentally tantrums happen at a time when our kids understanding of language far exceeds their spoken language, so communicating using their nice words when they feel frustrated is more challenging. Emotions are a tricky thing to learn and it is important for emotional development to teach our kids it is ok to feel cross, angry, frustrated is ok - but these emotions need to be expressed in an appropriate way. Try not not give to much attention to the tantrum itself - so language like come on don't be silly, or you're being really naughty, you can't be cross etc can sometimes fuel a tantrum. Using a phrase like "I understand you're cross but hitting is not ok" gives less attention to the hitting and helps or kids understand about their feelings and behaviours. If you give me some more details of when tantrums occur and how a typical tantrum pans out I can give more specific strategies. Hope this helps.

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