Reframing Tantrums As Positive Emotional Releases
How much do adults pay therapists to have a really good cathartic cry? How good does it feel when you can go to a close friend who just makes you a cup of tea and really listens whilst you let it all out.
Our children, especially the younger ones, have this inbuilt reset, it is called "a tantrum" by most, I like to reframe it as the positive emotional release it is. Here is how we can help them with that.
During a positive emotional release your child's pre-frontal cortex is not engaged (the part that deals with logic, empathy, reasoning) then there is no point in talking as your child literally cannot hear you. The pre-frontal cortex engages when your child feels safe and connected.
If I do say something, it is to validate what I think my child may be feeling and to let them know I am there for them "Are you feeling upset because Fred was not able to make his playdate today?" Often this has little to do with what has just occurred and lots to do with something that has happened previously that they need to release. Often at the mere mention of the cause, more crying comes, they feel safe enough to really let it all out.
Eye contact, getting down to their height, touch can all help.
PARK YOUR OWN FEELINGS
Often there is an internal dialogue in my head going on, sometimes guilt or blame, "Should I have checked Fred was coming yesterday...." But I park this for my listening partnership time and focus on my breathing, as I know and trust that my child is doing exactly what he needs to do.
We live in a culture that is not comfortable with strong emotions and as a result, emotions get suppressed and come out in unhealthy ways. To raise an emotionally healthy child you need to let them express their emotions.
Let me leave you with an expression I like to use to shift this culture "Do you need a GOOD cry?"
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