It may help you to know that tantrums, although unpleasant, are common in young children, especially when their emotions become overwhelming. Not able to use language effectively to communicate their feelings, and not knowing what to do when unpleasant emotions like anger, sadness and frustration show up, tantrums become a way for young children to let us know that they are struggling and that they need our help.
All of the things that you mention, including discipline, changes in routine and changes in family circumstances, are potential 'tantrum triggers' for very young children. That you have a good idea of the situations that are likely to be distressing for your son is helpful. It means that you will be able to plan for situations and times when a tantrum might occur.
Here a few things that you and your son might find helpful when he next becomes distressed:
- Try and remain calm yourself when a tantrum starts - take a few deep breaths to help you manage your own feelings and try to avoid screaming and shouting
- Use words that your son will understand to reassure him that you have noticed that he seems angry or mad or upset - this will help him to start labelling his own emotions
- If you are able to notice your son's distress building, perhaps suggest a change in activity. Helping him shift his awarenss to other things might reduce the likelihood of a trantrum occuring
- Stay with your son so that both of you know that he is safe until the distress passes. As much as possible use a calm and gentle voice to help soothe him.
- If it is possible, some children respond well to a very firm hug when they are overwhelmed with distress - the type of hug that enables them to feel a parent breathe slowly, so bring him close to your chest (you may need to crouch). If you are able to try this, what you might notice is that after a minute or so, your son's breathing will be slower and deeper too.
I hope you find this helpful.
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