THE SCIENCE OF TANTRUMS
In the book Whole Brain Child, Dr. Siegel & Bryson inform us that our children's 'downstairs brain', also considered to be the more primitive part of the brain, controls basic functions such as breathing, innate reactions, impulses such as fight/flight, and strong emotions such as anger and fear.
The 'upstairs brain' is more evolved and controls analytical and higher order thinking, such as decision making, planning, empathy, self understanding, conscious control of the body, control of emotions, and moral reasoning.
Guess which brain is currently under construction for our children? That's right! The 'upstairs brain'.
Feelings such as anger and fear, block children's access to their upstairs brain.
So, basically when they lack emotional control, they are asking for our help! Our help in creating healthy bridges between their upstair and downstair brains.
FEAR NOT. We got ya! Say hello to your very own 4-STEP TEMPER TAMING TOOLKIT:
STEP 1. CONNECT & REDIRECT (Also known as 'Engage, don't Enrage')
This is not the time to give them consequences or lectures. They are literally incapable of processing anything when their downstair primitive brain is activated so don't waste your energy or time here. Instead... use loving touch, calm words, and empathy to validate their feelings.
+ BREATHE! Try saying, 'Your brain is feeling super angry. It is asking for oxygen right now. Let's breathe together three times.' (The scientific evidence behind this is there - feel free to google it ;)
STEP 2. RE-PLAY THEIR STORY.
Narrate to them what just happened like you would tell a story to activate their upstairs brain.
+ 'NAME IT TO TAME IT' - Name their emotions so they can understand them. Listening and processing your words helps activate their upstairs brain.
+ SHAKE IT OFF - Try doing a silly dance or shaking all the angry out. Physical activity helps engage their upstairs brain.
STEP 3. FOLLOW THROUGH
Congrats! Your child's upstairs brain is now back in action. THIS is the time to effectively follow through with any natural consequences or next steps you had in mind.
STEP 4. CONSISTENCY. CONSISTENCY. CONSISTENCY.
All is great when said and done. But what matters is how consistent we are. Our children learn best when we repeat certain tools consistently. This is everything!
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