Language of Listening® the coaching model I use and teach, is going to be your little piece of parenting magic that stops the tantrums for good. You’ll be wondering “Why did no one ever tell me before?”
SO, what’s the difference?
The difference between the Language of Listening® approach to dealing with tantrums and that of most other programs is mainly this: in a tantrum, others try to calm children down or avoid situations all together; we facilitate tantrums in a way that allows children to calm themselves down.
You focus your attention on coaching your child to succeed in controlling their own behaviour and working through their own upsets and emotions.
When a child has a tantrum in public it’s typically for one reason:
They want something they can’t have. That’s either a physical item like a toy in the supermarket aisle, or they don’t want to leave the playground. And how we respond to their wants makes all the difference.
One of the premises of Language of Listening® is everything children do and say is a communication, and children must continue to communicate until they are heard. That means your child has an innate drive to keep communicating until they are heard. And if you don’t reflect back to your child what they want, (even if it seems silly or what you think of is wrong) you give your child no other option but to escalate their behaviour, they will literally act out to show you. – hello to the hitting, shouting, stomping…
When a child is on a verge of a tantrum, go immediately into saying what they want.
When your child is upset about something, and you go straight into validating their experience, you child feels heard, and the communication loop closes. That means that your child will NOT need to escalate their behaviour in order to show you what they are trying to communicate.
Remember that acknowledging how your child sees something and how they feel about it is not the same as agreeing. It’s understanding why their side makes sense to them.
The first thing you need to do, to stop a tantrum in it’s tracks.
The first step in the Language of Listening framework is what we call Say What You See® Literally you just say what is right there in front of you. You say out loud what your child is doing, saying, feeling or thinking.
Instead of saying: “I don’t care, we’re leaving the park now! Don’t fuss. We can come back tomorrow. If you stop crying now you can have ice-cream after dinner!”
Say What you See: “You want to keep playing. It’s hard to leave. You want to stay here all day.”
Instead of saying: “We are not buying any new toys today! You’re so spoilt! How many times do I have to tell you?!”
Say What you See: “You’re showing me with all your tears how much you want that toy. You’re so disappointed.”
Often this step is enough to stop a tantrum in its tracks, although validation alone isn’t the reason why your child stops tantruming.
Let’s look at another reason why your child’s tantrums make perfect sense, even if you don’t like it.
Children feel powerless when they can’t get what they want. And what do children do to meet their need for power? They act out, they screech, stamp their feet, howl or lash out at you. Aka a tantrum!
They’re meeting their need for power. It might not be in a way you like! But they’re meeting their needs, nonetheless. When I talk about the need for power, I’m not talking about powering over someone, or your child demanding what they want. I mean the basic human need of power.
POWER: The need to feel confident in control of myself and able to make an impact on my world.
That’s why when you help your child meet their need for power in a way you DO LIKE they will natural change their own behaviour.
So, what can you do to support your child to get their need for power met?
Well! I have a simple yet powerful way to help your child meet their need for power in a way you DO like!
In Language of Listening®, we call this step CAN Dos. Literally what your child CAN DO that’s within your boundary. This helps you focus on finding solutions that work for everyone. – which naturally meets their need for power.
Quick tip! Make sure you’re not adding fuel to the fire. Don’t disagree with what your child wants or repeat the boundary. Remember your child can want what they want, you don’t have to buy it for them, or stay longer at the park if you don’t want to.
And don’t get into a discussion about why they can’t have what they want, it only increases their need for power and builds resistance.
Your role is to ‘see’ what your child wants, decide if that’s OK with you or not, and get on their side to find solutions. Focus on what your child wants and find solutions that works for you both.
These 3-steps are the key to ending tantrums and meltdowns for good while bringing out your child’s inner strengths.
For example, if you child wants a toy when you’re out shopping and that’s not OK with you, you first validate how much they want the toy right now.
You start there by SAYing WHAT YOU SEE: It can sound like: “Oh no! You want it now! You want to walk out of the shop and have it in your hands! It feels so unfair.” – remember, you’re not agreeing with them, only supporting them to feel heard and what they want matters, even if they can’t have it.
You then add the all-purpose CAN DO statement: “Must be something you CAN DO to make sure you get the toy at another time.”
Possible CAN DO solutions:
Put it on your wish list
Save your pocket money
Hold it and look at it in the shop
Tell me all the reasons why you love it so much
When you include your child in the problem-solving solutions, not only are you raising a child who can find ways to meet his need within your boundaries, he will also know how to get what he wants, feels confident in his abilities and less likely to have a tantrum in the future.
Your goal is to help them succeed. Then when they succeed, you name that STRENGTH.
You start with using a Say What You See then you add a STRENGTH. It can sound like this: “You found a way to calm down, you put the toy on you wish list. That shows you’re resourceful and know what you need to calm down.”
Or that shows you’re:
Found a way to get your upset out without hurting anyone
Know how to calm yourself down
Know what you WANT/NEED
When you finish your interactions by pointing out STRENGTHs it allows your child to see their capability to problem-solve and find solutions.
Your child’s behaviour is guided by their STRENGTHs, (the ones you just pointed out to her) This is what impacts your child’s future behaviour.
Connecting children with their inner STRENGTH is the objective of facilitating their tantrums. Because in order for your child to stop having tantrums in the first place, they need to see they do have self-control.
The truth is that children who have real physical proof that they CAN control themselves and calm themselves down, don’t need you to do it for them. They feel proud of themselves and will show you all the ways they can calm down.
Remember our child feeling powerlessness is the major cause of tantrums – Use these 3 steps together to turn it around.
From the very first time you use Say What You See® you’ll see the situation defuse, from the second time you use these steps, you’ll see your child more able to think of a CAN DO. And the more you keep pointing out your child’s STRENGTHs the more your child will gather proof of their greatness as you’ll be bringing out more of their self-control to better manage their own behaviour.
Here’s an overview of the 3 steps
Always start with a Say What You See then you add a CAN DOs and finish off by pointing out a STRENGTH
Say What You See
When your child is validated and heard. – a child who knows what they want matters to you, feels connected and empowered. They don’t have to act out to prove to you how much they want what they want. (even if they can’t have it!)
Then they gain problem-solving skills. – A child who knows how to get their needs met and find solutions to their problems, feels empowered.
And by pointing out their success, you bring out their inner STRENGTHs. – since children act according to who they believe they are, you prove a strength, you change a behaviour.
Would you like more support stopping the tantrums for good?
If tantrums are taking over family life, and you want to go from stressed out to a more fun, relaxed, happy family life, let’s chat. You can schedule a complimentary, no-obligation call to find out how best I can support you. You can do that by clicking right here.