Remember, as always, Safety First!
The typical and recommended response to a tantrum is to ignore it whenever possible. This can be very effective when consistent. There are two potential problems with ignoring tantrums.
1. It can be difficult to be consistent across all settings and with all people.
2. There are times when there are safety concerns and it can not be ignored.
There are other ways to respond to tantrums which in some situations can be more effective and produce quicker positive results. With this said, one intervention does not work best for either all parents or interventionists or with all children or clients.
Many years ago I worked in an institution. During that time I spent some time working with a group of young adult men with sever developmental and behavioral problems. There was one young man who, when he would get upset and throw a tantrum, he would tear his clothes, throw beds and at times even tear sinks off the wall.
One day he started into a tantrum, I do not remember why, and he started screaming and tearing his shirt. I’m not sure what caused me to respond in this way, but I started yelling and also tearing his shirt. He immediately stopped with a shocked look on his face and mumbled the question “are you crazy?” That was the end of the tantrum.
Another time I was with a young man (about 10 years old) who was very upset because he wasn’t able to go on an outing (this was a consequence for his behavior). He was swearing and complaining about one particular staff member. I listened and then suggested that we write it all down. He just responded “naw” and that was the end of the tantrum. We of course discussed what got him to that point and on a long term basis worked on skills that would help to avoid the same problem. On another occasion a young girl (about 6 or 7) started throwing a tantrum in a clinic setting (screaming, kicking). I told her that she wasn’t doing a very good job of throwing a tantrum and that I could throw a better one. Which I did. There were two or three other adults in the room with us who joined in on the act, each trying to out do the other. She never threw a tantrum in front of me again.
My grandson is another example. He is almost four years old and had started throwing tantrums. The first time he did it I responded by saying “that’s just not working for me, why don’t you try….” I would then suggest different things like hitting the couch or stomping his feet a little harder and lying down and kicking his legs. Each time I would respond and say, “nope, that’s still not doing it for me” and suggest something else. Before very long at all he had given up. I believe I did it with him one other time and that has been it. More recently he thought screaming might work on me so I took him to a room, there were some other interesting things in the room but I wouldn’t let him play with them because our purpose was to scream REALLY loud and long. I told him we were here to scream and to go head, he said “no thank you.” He did not get to play with the things in the room but returned to what we had been doing instead.
Here’s the point for tantrums, another possible alternative. Ratchet it up, take it to the next step, perhaps even a challenge, and participate in the tantrum without becoming overly anxious. Make sure the person is safe. (Generally the head is where I am most concerned. You do not want to allow something that may cause damage to the child such as banging a head against the wall. There can also be other areas of concerns.) You can also redirect to safer ways to tantrum. Instead of ignoring, turn it into a game, such as a stomping contest.
Address what brought the child or person to this point in an appropriate and positive manner.
I wanted to add one thing to our tantrum discussion, it's not just that the child may be worn out, but children are smart, even children with disabilities are smarter than we often give them credit and they quickly learn that there's just no leverage in the tantrum, with adults who react in this way. It's more like, "hey this adult just doesn't get it, no use trying it on him or her any more."
It's similar to some of Milton Erickson's techniques where he just wouldn't get flustered and would actually jump right into the drama with the client. He believed that it wasn't his job to turn people around, just move them out of their entrenched trance by a degree or two and then allow them to figure it out and "right" themselves.
Reword the information below if used.
Dear Difference Maker,
After sending this note off to my daughter this morning, it occurred to me that people are traveling a lot this summer and that this information would help so many faced with Travel Tantrums by individuals age 1- 99 years old! What I recommended to her is what I used as a young parent as well as today out in the real word, day-to-day experiences. I hope it helps you Make A World of Difference in someone's life!
Our daughter writes:
I do have two things to check, so I'll be at baggage by 11:30 or so. That is, if I make it out of the plane alive. I love Clark dearly but I am just not sure how long he'll / I'll be able to stand sitting in the seat together. Let's all just enjoy this visit together, shall we, since it will be the last time I fly with him for quite a while. Love you all! M
Hey there sweet momma! I understand your concern ... and here's a few traveling tips:
The biggest carry-on bag I carried on was all the things I knew would keep my kids' active mental interest - it was always bigger than my purse! You know the drill, food, toys, books, fun ... etc... but bring even more than you think you'll need. The bag full of interesting stuff (a new book, toy or two) is an adventure in and of itself.
Imagine a fun trip with the two of you having a delightful, adventurous time together.
Visualize a peaceful and enjoyable flight with your happy, sweet boy.
As I've mentioned to you before, kids 0-14ish are little barometers, and they pick up instantly on their parent's anxiety, fears and expectations. With that said ... what does it mean to pull your energy (anxiety) back in to your body?
Think of your body as it looks on those electromagnetic imaging photos of the human body, where you can see the heat emanating from around the entire body, usually looking orange, red and yellow. Those colors are energetically stimulating colors and come from a person who is heated up with worry and/or more inflammatory emotions.
Now, if one's emotions are peaceful due to making a decision to just enjoy the experience, the energy body has colors more like soft greens, blues, purples and pink = a soothing effect on everyone who comes into contact with you and your energy. You have felt both of these from people, I'm sure.
Over the next few days, think of the thing that concerns you most that Clark "might" do regarding the flight ... then, mentally make a decision to calm yourself with thinking about how you will remain green, blue, purple and pink throughout all of the different interests surrounding him.
Visualize Option 1,2,3 and so on as working and see Clark as contentedly playing and enjoying himself right in his own area. He can stand and play with his seat as his little playground, or sit and play in his seat with the table as his little work bench. And of course, there will be those frequent walks up and down the aisle to see how many people he can engage and entertain!
Visualize a sleeply, sleepy, sleepy Airplane Clark! I did this with your brother, and to this day, Brynie automatically falls asleep the moment the plane takes off and pretty much stays that way throughout! Brynie was very much like Clark in his enjoyment of a lot of mental interests and inner strength, willpower, determination and enjoying a lot of physical activity.
Just a few ideas ... have some FUN with them! They really do work with energetically managing kids. You can't fail at this, you can only get results. If you don't like the results you are getting, make yourself calm down and breath - thinking about soothing body colors.
And last but not least... what I teach to people of all ages, when faced with a situation that seems like it's about to go out of control, is to spell P-E-A-C-E in your MIND for at least 60 seconds - longest it will take is approx. 2 minutes - don't stop - 60 seconds will seem like a long time while its happening, but then after it's over it will seem like it wasn't much at all.
As you spell the word P-E-A-C-E in your MIND, you will also monitor your breathing and heart pumping. You will be amazed at how quickly everything around you starts to settle down if you can just do this one thing.
You may think this is a bit "out there" but this is exactly how I am making a difference, by teaching business professionals, educators and parents about these concepts!
Well, anyway as I said, have some FUN with trying some of these things ... we are so excited to have you come and visit!
Love you see you SOOOOOOOOOOON!
If you will be on a flight this summer with a young parent traveling with a 2 year old on a long flight, rather than become irritated with a child's discomfort and the young parent's anxiety about what a scene he is making, spell out P-E-A-C-E in your MIND and be helpful in this situation. Do NOT concern yourself with all of the other judgmental and condescending individuals on the plane, because P-E-A-C-E IS the highest transformational energy you can offer and will actually bring PEACE to other people as well.
AND ... don't forget to SMILE at people if you really want to transform a situation!
Happy Travels to you all... send us your P-E-A-C-E success stories. We always love to hear from you and share your successes with ALL of our Difference Makers.
Reaching out ...
Author of Make A Difference with the Power of Connection for Professionals & Parents
and The Power of Compassion: 7 Ways you Can Make A Difference
Available at: www.MakeADifference.com
PS ... And Speaking of PEACE ....We have some additional EXCITING NEWS... Musical artist, Faith Rivera will sing along to our www.PeaceTodayMovie.com at an event in Port Chicago, CA July 17th to an audience that will include the Obama's!
Congratulations to Faith Rivera ... what a wonderful dream realized! Her CDs and the DVD of this movie is available at: www.MakeADifference.com/music