Tears, trials and tantrums: a special workshop for parents

Ever feel like you are often in conflict with your child? It’s true, children’s brains work differently to adults. Children’s therapist Katie Trusty is running a special workshop to help parents understand early behaviour and improve communication skills. Katie used to be part of the Children’s Therapies team and talked to us about the workshop.

Parent mother and child

What gave you the idea for this workshop?

Early brain development has a huge impact on a child’s behaviour. Understanding this has had a hugely positive effect on my own parenting, as well as the parents I work with. I wanted to create a workshop to share this information, ultimately helping more parents and caregivers connect with their children and support their emotional development.

Are children’s brains really different?

Yes, absolutely. During the first few years of life, the brain grows at an incredible rate. Parents have a vital role to play in this process – the interactions we have with our children are key in developing pathways between the upper and lower brain. This shapes the part of the brain responsible for reasoning, self-awareness, impulse control and the regulation of feelings.

Is there any behaviour that children will simply grow out of?

There are behaviours that children will grow out of, but with the right kind of input they are likely to grow out of them quicker! The emotional support from parents can help children develop ways of managing feelings and challenges that will last a lifetime.

What are the most common cause of tantrums? 

We know that children are more prone to have tantrums when they are tired or hungry. Other triggers can include a lack of engagement over-stimulation. Children can also be more prone to tantrums if there has been a build-up of unexpressed emotion or a change that has unsettled them in some way.

What are your top tantrum dos and dont’s?

Try to:

  • stay calm

  • remember that this outburst isn’t personal

  • remain present with your child where possible.

Try not to:

  • threaten or walk away

  • place your child in a separate room, they will need your help to calm down. It is important that we send the message that we accept them and their feelings but not the behaviour (e.g. hitting or throwing)

  • use too many words. Children are unable to process information during the peak of a tantrum and this is likely to exacerbate the situation

I really feel like some days are a constant battle with my child. How can I make our days more positive?

I think one of the most important things to remember is not to take our children’s behaviour too personally. Remember that they don’t have the perception or experience that we have to manage their emotions.

When you sense they are going to struggle with a decision, event or change, prepare them for what’s about to happen. Acknowledge what they are in the middle of doing (e.g. playing with their toys) and give them ample warning re what comes next (e.g. leaving the house).

Invest in regular intervals of time (whenever possible) where you can engage fully with your child without distractions. By providing these emotional pit-stops, you can help your child to regulate his or her feelings and intervene early before a tantrum takes hold.

It’s also important to take opportunities (however small) to look after your own well-being. It could be as simple as taking five minutes to collect your thoughts and drink a glass of water. You’ll be better placed to manage when your children pushes your buttons (which they inevitably will!).

(Tears, trials and tantrums is ran on 1 and 22 July 2017)

If you’re worried about your child’s tantrums, call us on 0208 6737930 to find out how we can help.

Lizz Summers

Voice & Presentation Skills Coach