We have all heard about the terrible twos and there are days where as parents, we have wondered if tantrums are part of a regular developmental process, and if there are ways we can deal with them better.
At Melodious Cove, our centre does not just focus on providing academic support for your children, but we also focus on teaching children many life skills. This is an area of interest and focus for one of our founders, Yaling, as she believes in equipping children with lifeskills for the future world.
Hence, one of Melodious Cove’s bespoke weekly programme focuses on supporting the social-emotional (SEL) growth of the children. These basic SEL skills set children up for the holistic challenges of an adult’s life when they are taught how to make responsible decisions, work cohesively in a team, manage their own emotions and relate better to others, and develop the skills of resiliency. Importantly, our teachers are debriefed by our SEL trainers after each session so that there is a continuity and follow through in the monitoring and support of our students’ welfare.
The programme is specially designed by Blythe and her team, she is one of our programme partners, who has a Master of Counselling and many years of experience in the field under her belt.
Blythe is also a mother of 2 young children, age 3 and 5. Blythe advocates self-care and is passionate about helping people overcome their challenges. Here, we reached out to her to share with us on strategies to cope with our children’s tantrums.
Q: How do you define tantrums? This word seems to have a bad rep – are tantrums part of a “normal” developmental process?
A: Tantrums are mild emotional outbursts and they can be perfectly normal because young
children have yet to develop emotional regulation. They are very common because young children use them when they are overwhelmed by emotions. However, it can also be a learnt response; when their tantrums “assist” them to get what they want, and they learnt to rely on the unacceptable behaviours the next time they want something.
Q: When are “tantrums” not usual and when does a parent need to intervene?
A: There are red flags to look out for and these are:
1. Duration & frequency of tantrums – when tantrums happen too often (more than 10 times a day) and they persist for more than 30mins. This is not definitely just another “bad” day
2. When children start to show aggression towards caregivers, teachers or friends
3. When they attempt to hurt themselves during temper tantrums
Q: What can parents do to assist their children in dealing with these tantrums?
A: Once you notice the red flags, as an intervention, we could:
1. To simply try something new and avoid being sucked into the vortex. E.g. Instead of begging your children kids to leave the playground and get into the car, they can simply be challenged to race to the car. There’s more value in distracting than to fight with them.
2. Empathise – to validate their feelings. E.g. You can say “I see you are really upset
now”. These empathy statements very helpful to let them know you hear them.
3. Instead of joining in the emotion turmoil, parents can choose to stay calm, model
“breathing” and invite their kids to join them.
4. In very young children, we can also try reading story books which explores healthy expressions of emotions with them so that they can understand and identify better.
5. Most importantly, parents need to identify what is triggering the outbursts. Avoid
situations that end up in tantrums (e.g. if he often rolls around because of a rumbling tummy, then be sure to pack a healthy snack next time). As parents, we are not able help them until we know what the cause is.