That Turkey!…When your Toddler Tantrums.
You’re making a list a mile long for Thanksgiving: shopping, baking, house work, and you feel the stress starting to squeeze you like the waistband of your pants after turkey dinner. And if past experience has taught you anything you know the minute you pack up that last tub of leftover turkey your Christmas list will be twice as long. Sigh. Meanwhile, as you brace yourself for the next 6 weeks of chaos your toddler is screaming face down into the carpet, his little fits pounding, “I do it myself, I DO IT MYSELF!” He’s managed to trap both his legs into one leg hole of his pants, tried to stand up, tripped, fallen over attempting to run away from his own pants and is now flat out refusing your help. In fact, you’re pretty sure he can’t hear a word you have said for the past 5 minutes. As you watch his exuberant display of emotions you think to yourself, “Me too kid, me too.”
As adults we experience intense moments of stress and often become as frustrated as a toddler figuring out the mysteries of pants, yet we have spent years honing our coping mechanisms. We have limited our screaming to a minimum and traded tantrums for eye rolling and deep, expressive sighs. But man, have you ever watched a toddler really go at it and thought, that must feel so good to just let it all out! At ColorWorks we help parents remember to view their little ones as tiny humans experiencing big stress, then handling it the only way they know how. It’s our job, our exhausting and emotionally taxing job as a parent, to patiently guide our toddlers away from tantrums and meltdowns and replace them with productive communication. Such as, “Mom I seem to have wedged my legs into one pant hole and now find myself unable to walk, can you help me please.” But let’s just focus on getting two simple words strung together for right now. “Help please.”
Tantrums and meltdowns are often rooted in the same land for young children and it’s the land of misunderstanding. They are frustrated because they don’t understand how to do something, they don’t understand why they must do something, or they don’t understand why they can’t have the thing they desperately want. If we can train them to stop in their moment of rising stress and teach them two magic words, “Help, please” they will gain understanding about their situation and it will decrease their frustration levels. Coach Talk is ColorWorks solution for the rollercoaster ride of tantrums and meltdowns. This Skill Talk is one of 4 Skill Talks used in our unique parenting process, it teaches appropriate behavior while fostering the development of one of our 4 key principles; responsibility. (To learn more about the 4 principles each of our Skill Talks develop visit our Membership site at www.colorworksgroup.com, click on “families” on the Home menu or click on “membership.”)
The big picture when using Coach Talk to address tantrums and meltdowns is we want to teach the child that screaming, stomping, and throwing items is not the correct or responsible way to handle their stress. During Coach Talk the child learns how their behavior is affecting their parent, specifically what they are doing which is unacceptable, what changes are expected of them, and then they are given two very clear choices: change their inappropriate behavior or suffer a consequence. (Example of a Coach Talk for a toddler throwing a tantrum it attached here) When applied consistently to tantrums, Coach Talk teaches your child to handle their emotions in a responsible way and they learn to use strong decision making skills to navigate their stress. Choice A equals a good outcome but choice B has a consequence waiting at the end of it.
Learning through Coach Talk and making good choices is applicable for children, adolescents, and teens however, is Coach Talk an overnight cure? Nope. Responsible actions must be taught and mastered over time by replacing new, positive behaviors in place of old, negative ones. Just as its name implies when using Coach Talk as a parent you are essentially becoming a coach. And like any good coach, you must apply this Skill Talk consistently, frequently and with patience until the skill is mastered.
The awesome thing about Coach Talk is once you start your child on the path of responsible actions the skill grows with them. Today the meltdown is over their inability to put on pants, next year it will be the frustration of learning to write their name, the year after that the stress of riding a bike, and so on. When your child learns to responsibly handle their reaction to stress at age 3, 4, or 5 they will naturally translate those skills to stress at age 13, 14, and 15. Imagine your house with teenagers who don’t slam doors, scream or dissolve into hysterics. It is possible! I can speak from experience as a mom who’s followed the ColorWorks parenting process since my children were preschoolers. For more than ten years I have applied Coach Talk consistently, frequently and as patiently as I could in the moment. The result, I currently live in a house with two teenagers and there is no door slamming, sassy replies, or screaming and only minimal eye rolling which usually follows me saying something like “I Snapped you earlier did you get it, you didn’t snapchat me back?”
Teaching children to respond appropriately and responsibly to their stress is a long path. It can start as early as the toddler years as you teach your little one to reign in their tantrums and meltdowns. Applying Coach Talk to inappropriate behaviors teaches children to make better choices in the moment and that’s a goal we want our children to have at 4, 14, or 24!
(To learn more about the ColorWorks 4 Skills Approach to parenting visit our Membership site at www.colorworksgroup.com and click on Membership in the top menu.)