Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dance of the Temper Tantrum

I noticed an article today on how to deal with children's tempers and tantrums. There was all sorts of advice on how to weather the storm, how to patiently give them time to work through their feelings, how to understand their frustrations which are the underlying reason for the need to flail their arms and scream at the top of their lungs.

I have to admit that I never employed any of the approved psychological techniques to coping with a temper tantrum. I figured that if they were going to throw a tantrum, I was going to make sure they did it right. I became their tantrum choreographer.

When one of the children decided to fling themselves on the floor and start to wail, I encouraged them in the only way I knew how. First of all, I would insist they also wave their arms, and in fact, took their hands in mine to show them the correct angle and speed. Sometimes, they would stop crying at this point and start to giggle. I immediately reminded them to cry "wah wah" at this point and added leg movements to the arm movements for maximum flow.

About this time, the kids would be trying to get up, but I told them "No, you were really upset. You need to stay down there a little longer, that's not long enough to express how really upset you were". It didn't take long before they were laughing and begging to get up and they rarely had any idea of what the tantrum was supposed to be about in the first place.

Now, I don't know if I was supposed to find out what the tantrum was about. It's always possible that these unresolved issues will stay in the childrens' psyches well into adulthood and resurface at some later time, like middle age. The important thing to remember, is that whenever these problems resurface to cause problems in the future, it's a good bet that the children won't live at home anymore at the time.

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