Calming the beast!
So I have 2 young sons, 4 and 6. My eldest child is a sensitive soul, quiet, polite, calm and just an all round dream (yes I am bragging) My second son whom I love just as much, is anything but. He is an absolute firecracker with a temper to match.
Lachie is currently 4, but from a very young age it was clear he was going to be fiery. Like Jessie’s little boy, my son would bite, hit, pull hair and get so worked up there was nothing, I could do to calm him. Put simply he would rage. Rooms would get trashed, toys broken, walls kicked and he did not hold back.
Self-regulation is a learned behaviour and our kids learn it from us. There is nothing wrong with anger as an emotion – it’s a normal and healthy part of life and expressing ourselves. But we need help our kids manage the emotion of anger or frustration in a way that saves us mums – and their siblings from grievous bodily harm.
So physically, it takes milliseconds for us to work up into a heightened state and a good 10-12 seconds to come back to homeostasis (state of calm). So what we need to focus on is what to do in those seconds after the incident or rage to help our kids calm down.
If they are old enough you can try taking them into a room, sitting calmly with them and simply get them to breathe with you until they slow right down. Some will let you cuddle them (others will not). Some need some alone time with some soft music – but make sure this is not seen as a punishment. The most important think we can ask our older children Is “What can I do to help you calm yourself down”. Children need to feel as though they are in control of their emotions. Sometimes, we cannot fix it for them and we certainly cannot self-regulate for them and there is nothing scarier to a child than feeling as though they are out of control. We need to help our kids learn to control their reactions to emotions because we all experience them but it’s how we handle them that matters.
For Jessie, with such a young child, distraction is the best method. Do not make a bit deal of the bad behaviour, rather say the word No, then immediately remove them from the situation and give them something else to focus on. We need to remember that with young children, reinforcement of any kind will win over punishment every time. Studies have shown that even negative reinforcement (taking away something positive) is more effective than punishment for a positive change in behaviour.
On a final note…. try not to laugh at your child when they are having a moment. Putting Lachie to bed at night, I always sing two songs, and one night last week I happened to sing the wrong one first. Bad move. He had a complete meltdown and screamed at me “You Fu**ng old lady”. Yep you read right – he’s 4! Very hard not to have a sneaky chuckle at that one. Needless to say one of Lachie’s dinosaurs was taken away and put in a box to go to another little boy to play with.
Be still and breathe mumma – you’ve got this!
My Firecracker and Sensitive soul