Tantrums and the Important Role of Emotional Regulation

Aug 13, 2019, 09:00 AM
Today we embark on one of the more stressful experiences a parent will have... tantrums! They can come in all forms from explosions of anger to disorganised, erratic behaviour. They can involve screaming to the point of vomiting, stiffening of the limbs, kicking and hitting, arching of the back or dropping to the floor. Quite simply a tantrum is when your child ‘loses it’.
I have come to learn that there are often times in a tantrum that the best management is to simply check the child’s safety and then step back. The brain is running amuck and there is little to be gained from rationalising or communicating with your child at that moment. Later reflection and discussion around where those emotions came from will potentially draw out the fear that your child has built up in their mind. Common triggers to tantrums are hunger, tiredness (at the end of the day, have you noticed they become more common?), overstimulation–a child can have a tantrum after playing a computer game or watching a movie because their brain has been very busy during that activity, temperament and strong emotions.
It is also important when to recognise that the tantrum could have an underlying issue or problem for that child. Is there an element of anxiety? Are they struggling with their senses?
My guest today, Lisa Cooper, works as a behavioural and developmental OT in both the private and public sectors. She has had a wide range of experiences with children and their families and is especially interested in the emotions children display and the ability for them to regulate these.