If the emotions escalate and the child moves into the latter stages of a tantrum, the parent Plays the Violin. This is to be done if the child is out of control and won’t take touch, empathy, or suggestions. You may not play the actual violin. But if you do play an instrument, do that – or whatever your version of self-care is in that moment. It might be to vacuum, knit, read, draw, or clean nearby. It’s important not to stop your world.
Stay Close By. The key is not to disappear or abandon your child. Do not isolate the child. Let them know you will be close by and willing to help and support them when they are ready. You are a loving presence while the child moves through their emotions.
Keep the Environment Safe. Make sure the child won’t hurt themselves or anyone else. Sharp objects may need to be removed. Bring in soft objects like pillows. Or remove the child if the environment is not safe. Only remove yourself if the child is harming you.
Self-Care Tip. If the child is screaming, it’s okay to get out a pair of ear plugs and put them in while you Play the Violin.
While it seems that the stage of tantrums and meltdowns might last forever, know that your child is learning and growing with your guidance. While she might not be able to have that gap between impulse and action, every time you give her a chance to practice, her brain will be changing.
What I noticed about tantrums or other behavior that really gets a parent, is that if it works once, allowing the child the outcome they want, then why not try again? Children have a built in detector for these kinds of behaviors. A pattern interrupt allows the child to see that there is someone in charge, their world is safe, and they do not have to be in charge. Having to be in charge is a very scary place for a child, yet a role they will try to take on if they don’t feel someone else is filling it.
When my son got too frustrated and went into physical agitation or a tantrum, I would “Play the Violin.” I would make sure he was safe (usually somewhere on the floor.) I stayed close by doing something I liked or needed to do: reading, knitting, vacuuming, playing the guitar (or violin .) We let him know periodically that he was safe and loved— and let the tantrum run its course.
If the child cries for what they want, the answer is always no.
Think of a tantrum as time for yourself.
Remind the child that they are safe and loved.
Stay close by, but do your own thing.
If you are sound sensitive, use ear plugs.
There are great benefits for all involved as you move through this child behavior. The child will develop more self-control, which will feel good for them. And, as a parent, it’s a great feeling to help your child move more smoothly through what can feel like very difficult waters to navigate.
If you have a strategy you’d like to share, please do so. Or maybe a question. I love to hear your comments. Just pop one in the box below.
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