Katie Kish


10 Ways I Stop Temper Tantrums In Their Tracks

Temper tantrums are definitely the worst. But usually, I can spot one on it’s way. Either her words or just the way her body starts to move… there are many signs that one is coming. While it’s difficult to stop them once they’ve started…sometimes they just have to run their course… (sometimes validating her feelings really works “yes, I know you really wanted that broom. I know. That’s really difficult for you….” sometimes it doesn’t).

I’ve discovered a lot of effective ways for redirecting and re-empowering my daughter so the tantrum doesn’t happen.

1.The Cup Check

Her and I have talked a lot about her “cup”. When she wakes up in a good mood from a good sleep we say her cup is full! Isn’t that nice! If she wakes up a bit grumpy we point out that maybe her cup isn’t as full as it could be. So we should have some extra hugs, pick out a special shirt, and do our secret handshake to refill the cup a little bit before the day starts.

As the day goes on, I check in with her and her cup. She’s starting to give meaningful answers. I’ll ask if she wants to do a craft and she says no…which surprises me. So I ask how her cup is doing and she tells me it’s a little bit empty. So I ask what we need to do to fill it up. Food, water, hugs, dancing, or alone time are usual answers.

This alone gives me a gauge on how she’s doing throughout the day. So when I pick her up from school and she says her cup is totally empty or she doesn’t even want to talk about her cup – I know that we’re in tantrum territory. So I prepare myself with some strategies for the rest of the evening:

Getting her wiggles out by doing some yoga. This is what she calls the “french fry pose” because “after yoga we should get french fries”.

2. Do you need to get your wiggles out?

Most of the time, with my daughter, she just has too much built up energy and hasn’t done something energetic or goofy recently. The other bonus is that this is one of the only methods where I can keep doing what I’m doing without a lot of interference from her.

3. Do you need a hug?

Don’t we all, sometimes?

4. Would you like to pick out a book to read?

Books are her way of relaxing. I know another kid that uses colouring for the same purpose. Even just a very short book can switch my daughter from meltdown-imminent to cool and collected.

5. I don’t want to be here, either. When we get home, we can choose a book and read it together.

This one is for when we’re in the store and she’s about to erupt. I think of something back at home that she’s looking forward to – new library books, her new bubble blowing gun, squishies… whatever the obsession of the week is, and get her mind focused on that instead.

Helping me cook some pho!

6. Can you help me?

Helping empowers our littles! And I’m constantly impressed by what she can do.

7. What animal are we feeling like right now?

I can tell a lot about her mood if I find out what animal she’s embracing at that moment. A little kitty? She’s needing some mom time. A bear? She’s needing to feel in control. A doggy? She’s actually feeling pretty good. A monster? She’s mad. An alien? She’s on another planet (literally and figuratively, so all I need to do is ask if we can meet in the spaceship [the bathroom] and once we do take off we can usually have a quiet conversation).

8. What do you need, my Queen? 

Asking her what she needs alone never quite does the trick. But put “Queen” on the end, putting her in charge, and voila… suddenly the Queen is using her words and expressing very clearly what’s going wrong in her world.

9. Give her a superpower. 

My daughter, like a lot of kids, fucking LOVES frozen. So, we informed her that she too has freezing abilities. Now, whenever she feels like she’s losing control or getting a little upset she’ll “freeze” us (with a very cute stance and a ‘pa-chew!’ noise) until she’s ready to move on to the next task. We do have a few rules – she can’t freeze mom if the baby is crying and no one has to stay frozen if they have to pee or poop. You’re also not allowed to touch the frozen person.

When her cup is totally empty… she can’t even get through a book. <3

10. The mom-fail check-in….

Some days, I can’t do any of this and I just tell her to be quite! Go to her room and read! Stop crying! … Which only makes things worse, but we can’t be goofy and perfect all the time. On these days I do something really important….

After I get the baby to sleep and take a moment for myself I crawl into her bed and we “hang out”. We both apologize for our behaviour of the day and forgive each other fully. During this time, she often says things like “we love each other so much, don’t we?” or “You’re my girl, mommy” or other directly re-connecting statements. Sometimes she drifts off to sleep and other times we just hug and hug and hug and kiss and kiss and kiss, read a book and then I go off to bed. But, I make the time to repair that little mess we made during the day. That helps her cup fill up to have a good sleep, or so she says…

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