A to Z of Taming Tantrums: S is for Soothing Techniques

Need some toddler calming tricks? Try these!

A to Z of Taming Tantrums: S is for Soothing Techniques

A - Z Taming Tantrums | YummyMummyClub.ca

Thank you for watching the next video in our A to Z of Taming Tantrums series. Today’s letter is S and S is for Soothing Techniques.

These techniques are for when your child is back arching, raging mad and needs help to start the calming process. As I mentioned in the video, some children do not want to be touched, so please only touch them if they are okay with that (assuming safety first).

When the fight-or-flight reaction is locked in, physical touch can sometimes help pull that person out of “cobra mode.” In this week’s video, I discuss four techniques to try with your upset little one.

Here is a summary of the four techniques:

1. Mind meld

Hold your forehead to your child’s and breathe slowly until his or her breath starts to slow as well. As soon as you feel the breath calming, pull your child in for a hug.

2. Train tracks

Draw simultaneous lines down each side of your child’s spine from the neck to tailbone (not the other way). Do these slowly and with a bit of pressure—but not too hard. You can ask your child if (s)he would like you to press harder or not. Sometimes thinking about the answer to this question helps the calming process.

3. Crown to nose line

Beginning at the crown of the head, slowly draw a line down your child’s head, forehead, and nose. Repeat in the same direction. If you child is tired, this might actually put him or her to sleep! I have put many babies and toddlers to sleep this way. If you’d like help getting a wired up child to sleep, I suggest reading this article and this one, too.

4. Inversion

Hold your child in a hug and bend forward. You can add a slight jiggle if your child likes that. Come back to standing or sitting and try that again if your child is okay to do one more.

The fight-or-flight reaction is a powerful one that can completely take over our children. Pausing to help them get back into “thinking mode” can stop a tantrum in its tracks. I’d love to know how these techniques work for you and your child! Please do comment on the video link or over at my Facebook page.

 RELATED: You Can Find The Entire A to Z Tantrum Taming Guide Here

We're so excited to share with you the A to Z of Taming Tantrums video series! 

Each week we'll share the next letter of the alphabet and Andrea will discuss how it relates to reducing tantrums - and improve our experience as parents! You can view each video here as they are added each Friday.


10 Phrases That Are Helping Me Be a Better Parent

Need some go-to calming phrases? Try these.

10 Phrases That Are Helping Me Be a Better Parent

Parenting lifeline | YummyMummyClub.ca

I walked up my stairwell the other day, past the pictures of my children when they were one and three, and suddenly froze. I trot past those pictures many times a day, but for some reason I stopped this time and stared deeply into their young eyes.

My own eyes started to water, as feelings of regret filled my heart. I don’t actually remember many details of that year—it has been one of the hardest of my life. I doubt I slept more than a couple of hours in a row each night. My youngest kept waking up every two hours or so and my oldest was up and raring to go by 5am. Most days ended in tears.

When I look at those pictures, I wish I could go back and be a better person. I wish I could coach myself through the rough parts to be the parent I wanted to be. Actually, this was one of the main reasons I turned my psychotherapy practice into a parenting education one: I needed to know how to do better.

In the process of improving my situation, I adopted a few phrases and questions that have significantly changed my mood, my parenting attitude, and my ability to connect with my young children. I’d like to share those with you:

I don’t need to let this bother me.

This one has really saved me. When milk spills, toys get left all over the house, or water gets sprayed out of the bathtub, for example, I take a very long, deep breath and say this: I don’t need to let this bother me.

Because this stuff happens pretty much every day.

He isn’t trying to make me mad; he’s trying to handle his upset.

One of my children is what some called “spirited.” You may have noticed how much I write about tantrums, freaking out, and calming upset. Well, that’s because my days as a mother of toddlers/ preschoolers was filled with tantrums. I became an expert on preventing, de-escalating, and handling them because I had to! I needed to find a way to throw myself a lifeline.

One of the things I did to pull myself out of my fight-or-flight reaction when one (or both) of my children were in theirs was to remind myself that my child wasn’t out to get me: he was upset and lacking the tools, communication ability, and skills to handle it. It is certainly easier to respond to a tantrum when I wasn’t having one with them.

I wonder why my child is distraught?

Some of the reasons my guys threw hour-long tantrums seemed absolutely ridiculous to me. I soon learned that however silly (broken banana/ yogurt stirred/ or yellow bowl used) the reasons seemed to me, my child had real cause to be mad from his point of view.

What helped me was to get past my assumption of ridiculousness and look for meaning. Often the why came from a deeper place like: he’s fed up that I’m not paying close attention to him, I offered him a snack much later than I should have, and he was done. And some days, children just freak out when the banana breaks just because they have very little experience in life—they don’t know bananas taste the same when broken or that it can’t be fixed. In their world, the banana just turned from yummy to garbage.

Knowing the why helps me have perspective and focus on supporting my child rather than blaming him.

How can I respond in a way that isn’t scary?

I ask this of myself a lot: how can I respond to my child in a way that he still feels respected and loved. In fact, I wrote this phrase on the whiteboard by our sink: “How can I respond in an emotionally safe way so my child knows he is loved.” –From the book Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well by Joshua Straub, PhD

What my children think of me is more important than what strangers think.

I’ve calmly carried raging, flailing children out of public places, not caring about the “stink eyes” coming from on-lookers. I have learned that knowing I’m doing what I believe is right for my children is more important that any judgment I might be getting from outsiders.

Crying is a viable option.

I’m referring to myself, not my children. On a few occasions, I’ve slumped into a crying heap while my children stared at me. It doesn’t happen often, but when I throw my hands up, unsure of what to do, I just let myself feel helpless and sad. It’s very interesting that each time this has happened, my children snapped out of whatever was causing their yells, and came to be with me. I let myself cry until I felt done.

I’ve learned to let my children do the same—to cry until the tears stop. Clarity often comes after those moments.

I need me.

I made the mistake of trying to do too much while raising little children. I realized that in order to still keep “me” intact, I needed to pay better attention to my needs. Being aware of what I felt I was missing, and taking steps to fix that, has helped me be more full so I can share myself with my kids.

Make space for rest.

This takes effort. Isn’t that silly—resting takes effort—but it does. I needed to carve out time to be rested because, wow, small children take a lot of energy!

Calm first. Talk second.

When my children are upset, I don’t talk to them until I’ve calmed myself down first (if I need to).

Freeze. Think.

When parenting chaos is happening around me and I start to get flustered, I remind myself to sit down, take a breath, and consider what options are available. Reminding myself to freeze, then think helps me step out of drama volcanoes and problem solve.

Do you have a phrase that helps you? I’d love to hear that. Please pop over to my Facebook page to let me know. Also, I have created an app full of phrases that help with raising toddlers. I invite you to search for “Taming Tantrums” in your smartphone app store (iTunes: Canada/ United States, android).

 RELATED: The Ultimate Guide to Stop Tantrums at Every Age


A to Z of Taming Tantrums: R is for Routines

Use routines to reduce power struggles and increase cooperation!

A to Z of Taming Tantrums: R is for Routines

Use routines to reduce power struggles and increase cooperation! This episode is about the letter R, and R is for Routines. | Parenting | YummyMummyClub.ca

Hello! Welcome back to the A to Z of Taming Tantrums video series. This video is about the letter R, and R is for Routines.

“The unknown” is one of the most fearful things for people—it’s even more stressful than taking a driver’s test or public speaking!

Fears for children can be hard for parents to understand, because sometimes the thing driving them into a screaming mess might be as simple as having a boiled egg rather than a scrambled one, or it can be something as complex as moving houses. Children are bombarded with changes every single day. This helps our little ones grow, but these changes can also cause great stress for them.

One of things we can do as parents to reduce the stress in our young child’s ever-changing life is to provide consistent daily routines. This can help during stressful and new experiences like giving up a bottle, going to a new daycare, meeting a new friend, or switching to a “big boy bed.” Routines reduce anxiety, and having regular daily patterns creates predictability—a sense of knowing what will happen next. In a world of growth and new things, routines provide children with a sense of safety.

Quite a lot of what a young child experiences is out of his control: what time he has to wake up/ leave the house, who he spends the day with, where he lives, and what is in his room. Children, just like most adults, handle these events better if they are expected and happen within a familiar routine. They will tolerate something very stressful (like leaving us) if they are in a place they know and doing things that are familiar.

In addition to helping our children feel safe and capable, routines help them cope with unexpected changes like a parent leaving for a business trip, a pet passing away, or a friend moving. When these unavoidable events happen, predictable routines create a foundation for their little lives. Young children can make it through big changes when they need to if they have routines to get them through.

“While helping children feel safe and ready to take on new challenges and developmental tasks would be reason enough to offer them structure, it has another important developmental role as well. Structure and routines teach kids how to constructively control themselves and their environments. Structure allows us to internalize constructive habits.” –Laura Markham, PhD

Please watch this video to learn more about why routines are important and what times of the day routines work very well in:

Here are six ways routines help to reduce tantrums:

Routines get rid of power struggles

A predictable order of doing things reduces power struggles because your child doesn’t feel he is constantly being told what to do. Nagging and reminding can be reduced when we use routines to let our children know what is happening next. “After we finish our bananas, then it’s time to go upstairs. Are we going to get there like elephants or crabs today?!” (These are some of the phrases from my Taming Tantrums app.)

Routines help young ones get through transitions

Transition time can be the most stressful time of the day for toddlers. Routines during transition times help our little ones move from one activity to the next and provide cues that it is time to switch gears. I invite you to read this post about the importance of using transition routines, this one about morning routines, and this one specifically about getting two-year-olds out of the door in the mornings. Schedules are certainly easier with routines!

Routines help things feel “fair”

Toddlers can get quite upset when things feel arbitrary. Routines help children feel a sense of flow and habit throughout the day, reducing the element of surprise.

Routines help children become more independent

As time progresses, children will learn to do things like get dressed by themselves or put their water bottle into their backpacks without continual reminders when these events happen at the same time and in the same way each day. Young children love doing things for themselves—it feels wonderful to have a sense of capability!

Routines give children something to look forward to

When young kids know an event they love is happening soon, like going for a walk, they can look forward to that, which certainly helps them feel better.

“Tank-filling” time can happen more easily during routines.

We know that we need to attend to and connect with our children every day. We can fit that connection time into each part of their routines to make sure we don’t inadvertently get caught up in the schedule of the day and end up missing those critical moments. First thing in the morning and at the end of the day are great times to fit lots of snuggle time in the routine.

Thank you for watching this toddler video series. I invite you to look for the next video, which is S for Soothing Techniques, as it is one of my favourites—I show parents how to calm their back-arching toddler. I also invite you to write comments or questions in the video comment box or over on my Facebook page.

 RELATED: You Can Find The Entire A to Z Guide To Taming Tantrums Here

We're so excited to share with you the A to Z of Taming Tantrums video series! 

Each week we'll share the next letter of the alphabet and Andrea will discuss how it relates to reducing tantrums - and improve our experience as parents! You can view each video here as they are added each Friday.