Cooling a temper tantrum


I saw a young mother de-fuse and calm a temper tantrum in the most humane way.

A mother and her two children were seated at a restaurant table nearby. The older child was a daughter perhaps about 5 years old while the younger was a boy a couple of years old. The daughter settled into her chair while the mother had a baby seat brought for her son. When she placed him on it, he climbed down; his mother stopped him and steered him back onto the chair and he showed signs of striking out at her. She picked him up, and held him very close to her heart so they were face-to-face, and she looked him straight in the eye and talked to him very softly, apparently with a low pitched voice, and he quickly quieted down, looking at her, and paying attention to her. Once he was calmed down she again placed him in the baby chair, and this time he settled into it.
Notice what she did:

  • at the first sign of a tantrum she picked him up gently and held him close to her body — so he felt her warmth — and her heartbeat?
  • she looked him straight in the eyes,
  • eye to eye she talked softly, gently.

Will this always work? It’s worth a hearty try! I was deeply impressed by what she did; I think it is workable if a parent is patient and calm. As you begin take a deep breathe to calm yourself.

The boy's response suggests the usefulness of my feelings and facts on anger.

What do you say to your child? A familiar song or bit of a story? Consider how to express your feelings of support, how you appreciate, affirm, enjoy your child. What you say is less important than tone and eye contact.


Copyright © 2014 John F. Yeaman