Posts Tagged ‘tantrums’

Parties, play dates, performances, oh my! 6 tips to help your child navigate a busy schedule without overwhelm, meltdowns, or tantrums

May 13th, 2013

It seems like this time of year there’s a party, play date, or performance almost daily. This can become an overwhelming time of year- especially if your child has a hard time transitioning or is very sensitive to their environment.

Here are 6 tips to help your child navigate this busy social time so there are less meltdowns, tantrums, or shutdowns.

  1. Pick and choose- As a parent make decisions that will be in the best interest of your child. You know if you run from a visit with your parents, then off to a theatre show your child is performing in, then to an after party with the cast members, your child may be “spent”, and that’s often when behaviors deteriorate. Limit the number of activities, and model to your child that saying “no, thank you” is perfectly acceptable.
  2. Prepare- Pick out clothes in advance, plan snacks or meals for the day, decide how long you will attend these events and how you (and your parenting partner) will respond if your child wants to stay longer.
  3. Let your child know the plan up front- Be clear on the plans for the day, expectations, the length of the visit, and if there is a concern about your child’s behavior be clear on what will happen if they become upset or act out (and then follow through on what you said you would do). If they easily become overstimulated create a word or signal that you both can use to remind your child to take a break from the activity they are doing. Reward good behavior with something meaningful and simple, such as letting your child stay longer at an activity or choose the story to read at bedtime.
  4. Don’t forget to eat and drink- I know this is so simple, but how easy it is to forget especially when we are so busy and engaged in an activity. Plan for snacks, meals and water breaks so your child’s blood sugar doesn’t drop or they don’t become dehydrated, which can lead to meltdowns.
  5. Teach your child how to self-soothe and self-regulate- When your child’s behaviors start to become regressive you know they are about to have a meltdown. Step in and help them learn how to self-calm. Head outside and go for a 5-min walk, smell and look at flowers, name the birds, look for bugs. Use your car as a “relaxation station” in -between traveling to different places. Spray calming scents like lavender or chamomile, have a bag of books, crayons and paper, (no mess) modeling clay, and soft snuggly pillows, and turn on some chill tunes. Teach your child how to take restorative mini breaks throughout the day.
  6. Encourage an art break- Use art to help your child calm and reflect on their day. Get creative, pull out some simple art materials and ask your child to make pictures. Here are some ideas to get you started, feel free to improvise: Ask your child to draw pictures of their favorite thing that happened during the day, ask them to make pictures of what the liked the least or anything that was frustrating, upsetting or annoying, ask them to make a picture of what they are feeling, and what that looks like. If there was a difficult situation, ask your child to make a picture of what they could have done differently to handle it.

Yes, it’s a busy time of the year with so many exciting things to do. Help your child manage the transitions with ease with these tips. If you need more support, we’d love to help you. Learn more about our amazing International Parents and Professionals Community and all the resources, and support you can access 24/7 to help your child be the amazingly awesome kid you know they can be!

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Prevent Holiday Tantrums and Meltdowns at ANY Age

December 4th, 2012

The holidays are a very exciting and stimulating time of year, and regardless of your age you may find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready to meltdown from stress. Now imagine you are a child with limited control and resources to express and manage your stress. No wonder this time of the year can be overwhelming for kids and adults alike! Here are 4 ways to prevent holiday tantrums and meltdowns at any age:

 

  1. Overstimulation is… overstimulating! Running around from store to store and from activity to activity is exhausting for everyone, especially children who are sensitive to the environment or have sensory issues. All those bright lights and loud stores are enough to unnerve anyone.  Know your child’s limitations and don’t ask them to go beyond what they are capable of doing. Instead, arrange a play date, ask a relative to help out, have your spouse watch the kids as you go and take care of shopping or last minute details.
  2. Kids don’t always have the words to tell you. When children are exhausted and overwhelmed they don’t always have the awareness or ability to let you know that they are at their limit. Heck, even as adults we can easily minimize our spouse/partner when they say that they have had enough and need a break…”Oh but there are a few more things we’ve GOT to get done”! Listen to your child, look at their body cues, and help them identify when they need a break. By helping your child understand and positively express their limits you can avoid the meltdowns and tantrums, especially the public ones that leave you wanting to sneak out of the store from embarrassment.
  3. Get back to basics: Wacky schedules, too much sugar, not enough exercise will lead to mood dysreguation.  Keep a daily schedule with regular bedtimes and use a whiteboard to add special events.  Limit all those holiday sweets. A simple rule of 1 sweet a day can help diffuse the arguments over cookies and candy.  If your child drinks soda, it may be time to choose a natural soda or limit the amount of soda. Clean out the cupboards of salty snacks, toss the ice cream and other sugars, and get outside and exercise.  Head to the local YMCA, join a sport, or just get outside. Exercise helps reduce stress and regulate mood (and helps with anxiety and depression).
  4. Pick and choose what’s important. What do you want your holiday memories to be like? If you are trying to pack everything holiday into 4 weeks you’ll be creating memories, for sure, but they may not be the memories you would like your child to remember!

 

CQ Playful Creative Activity:           

 

Here’s a creative activity to help you choose what’s important for your family. Take a few minutes and some deep breaths then find some magazines (or just get paper and pen/pencils/markers).  Choose a few words that reflect what you would like this holiday season to be remembered as. Write those words or cut the words out from magazines and paste onto paper. Then write down all of the things you believe you “should” do over the holidays on a separate piece of paper.  Look at your list of things to do and remove activities that do not align with the words you desire to create. This can be an empowering activity for the whole family, to help your family choose what’s important (and not so much) for the holidays.

Set your child up for success by joining the International Parents & Professionals Community December support call with guest expert Deborah McNelis on  the topic of “Brain Insights: Make a Positive Difference for Children!” You’ll get access to positive and practical strategies to help your child develop a healthy brain.

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Are you suffering from TMI syndrome? (TMI: Too much information)

October 30th, 2012

Recently I’ve been hearing lots of parents talk about how much is too much information (TMI) when they are talking with their children. Often it’s difficult to understand what are healthy boundaries. There is a tendency for parent to over explain situations. I see this happening with young children, whereby a parent will offer a lengthy explanation to their child why they can’t have a snack right now. The parent often is providing way too much information and justification as the child melts down into tantrums.  This not only happens with toddlers, but I see it in teens and young adults too. Parents lovingly offer up lengthy reasons why their teen shouldn’t do something and the teen launches into their version of a teen tantrum with whining, eye rolling, and anger.

 

Yes, modeling personal boundaries is essential to developing a healthy sense of self in your child. They need to hear you say “no” and they need to learn how to cope with the feelings around not getting what they want. However, there are many ways to set boundaries. You can set a boundary using a brief (one-two sentences) reason why. If it’s reasonable, allow your child a different choice or an opportunity to come up with a different idea. If you are firm on your decision do not launch into TMI lecture mode, this gives your child a reason to default to tantrums.

Here’s how you can use this simple strategy with your kids tonight and see changes in how you communicate.

For example, your child wants a candy bar before dinner.

 

Too much information:

Instead of saying, “You can’t have a candy bar you know it’s dinner time, you are always wanting to eat something before supper, why don’t you do something else instead, like take the dog for a walk, or help me out in the kitchen…”

 

You could respond this way:

“No you can’t have a candy bar before dinner, you can have an apple or grapes instead”. (Do not say anything more. If they default to whining mode remind them ONE time of their choice and do not saying anything more)

 

For example, your pre-teen wants to go to a party with some friends.

 

Too much information:

Instead of saying, “You’re always asking me to go to these parties and I’m tired of hearing about how all your friends are doing it, because we are not your friend’s parents, they let them do what ever they want …”

 

 

You could respond this way:

“I don’t feel comfortable with you being at this party without knowing who will be there. So I need to talk to the parents before hand if you’d like to go.” (Do not say anything more. If they default to whining mode remind them ONE time of their choice and do not saying anything more)

 

For example, you and your spouse have been arguing in front of the children.

 

Too much information:

Instead of saying, “Your father is so annoying I can’t stand it when he acts like that, he’s always doing things to get me mad…”

 

 

You could respond this way:

“Your father and I have been not getting along recently and I am sorry you have had to hear us arguing. We are doing our best to communicate better and will try to be respectful of your feelings.”

 

When you master TMI you can use it in all sorts of situations without becoming upset and reactive, and you will teach your child healthy and respectful communication. Try it tonight and see how it works.

If you need some tools and additional support join the International Parents & Professionals Community and get instant access 24/7  to support resources and a great group of professionals and parents! Our November support call is “7 Creative Activities to Help Toddlers and Preschoolers Positively Identify and Express Their Emotions” Can’t wait to welcome you on the support call!

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Got An Out of Control Child? These 7 Tips Will Help Your Child

August 22nd, 2011

Are you worried about your child’s behaviors in public, are you tired of hearing negative comments about your child’s behaviors from family, friends, and teachers, does your stomach sink and you feel totally embarrassed when your child or teen starts to act out in public?

It seems rather crazy that restaurants, airlines, and public spaces would restrict children; isn’t that how children practice learning social expectations and rules? As an art therapist in private practice I see many families whose children have gotten out of control with their meltdowns and tantrums. These children act out in public spaces leaving parents feeling helpless, worried, and often walking on eggshells fearful of the next time their child will have an emotional outburst.

Here’s the thing, there may be something going on with your child that warrants additional support. Your child may have anxiety, explosive anger or mood disorder; or it may be something much more simple than that. It may be that your child has not learned ways to manage their behaviors and emotions.

Here are 7 tips to help your child manage their out of control behaviors.

1. You are the parent and your child is looking for you to set the rules and boundaries of what are acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. As a parent it’s your job to provide feedback to help your child become aware of their behaviors, and to offer your child support to help them connect and modify behaviors. Children learn from your actions and behaviors, so get crystal clear on what’s okay behavior and what is not.

2. Acknowledge their feelings. Often children are acting out because they are upset, bored, annoyed, nervous, mad, sad, excited, hungry, tired (among other feelings, needs, and wants). By identifying your child’s feelings and behaviors your child will become more aware of their own feeling, behaviors, and wants. For example a child who is clinging to you and interrupting you as you speak you can acknowledge their behaviors and feelings, “ I can tell you want my attention now, and what you have to say is very important, when I am done speaking then I can listen to what you have to say”.

3. Let your child know when they are acting inappropriately. When you notice the negative behaviors it’s time step in and let your child know what is expected. Be clear, direct, and assertive without becoming angry and aggressive. For example, “The sofa is not for jumping, please stop”.

4. Allow your child to self-correct. If it is not a safety issue give your child an opportunity to hear what you have requested. You may need to step closer, look into their eyes, put a hand on their shoulder, or meet them at eye level and state what it is that you want them to do, then give them a few seconds to process what is being requested.

5. If your child continues to act and disregard your request, it is time to step into your parenting authority. In a calm manner let your child know what the consequences of their behaviors will be if they do not stop. Do this is as calmly as possible. Recent studies in brain-based research suggest we mirror the emotional responses of those we are connecting with. Unconsciously (and at times consciously) children want you to be as upset as they are. By staying calm and in your parenting authority you unplug power struggles and help your child regulate their feelings and behaviors. By getting upset you fuel their emotional outbursts further.

6. Consequences need to be immediate and meaningful, and you need to follow-though. Here’s the tricky part for most parents, they may become so upset at their child’s behaviors that they make a threat that is unrealistic, like taking away the TV for a month. Then when parents are calm they realize it may be difficult to monitor the consequence, and they decide to lessen the consequences or never follow-through. Children are very aware and learn by your behaviors. When you do not follow-through on consequences they realize that your consequences are not to be taken seriously, and they disregard your requests.

7. If your child needs more support in helping them to change their behaviors then you can help by developing a positive rewards system for younger children and a behavior contract for tweens and teens. I have witnessed children make dramatic transformations in their behaviors with these strategies, and I‘ve seen these strategies flop. What makes these behavior agreements work is when parents and children both are invested and the goals are realistic and achievable.

I recommend these 7 tips to the families I work with and support them to create their own individualized strategies to best support their child to get back in control of their behaviors. If you are concerned about your child’s behaviors try these strategies and if your child continues to struggle, seek out support.

If you would like more tools and strategies to help your child join me, Dr. Laura Dessauer (the Creativity Queen), on the YourTango Facebook Fan Page Thursday, Aug 25th at 2:00pm EST. I’ll be taking over the page and answering your questions to best help your child. We’ll be talking about heading back to school, bad behaviors, tantrums, shutdowns and meltdowns, what to do if you have a child when needs extra support and lots more. I’m looking forward to sharing valuable insider tools that will help your child and family positively communicate and connect!

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