Did you ever stop to think about why children throw tantrums? Why is it that they fling their bodies on the floor, kicking, screaming, and crying? Do they enjoy the pain? Why don’t they practice children’s stress management?
Children who throw tantrums are responding to stress, but without children’s stress management.
- Stress is your body’s response to any demands made on it.
- Situations or events that cause stress are called “stressors”
- A bad or detrimental stressor is called “distress”.
o “Di” means “two” in Greek. Think of double trouble.
o Distress is a disabling or crippling stress.
- A good or beneficial stressor is called “eustress”.
o “Eu” means “good” in Greek. Think of joy and laughter.
o Eustress is a pleasant or a healing stress.
When children find themselves in situations that make demands on their bodies, they experience stress. The stressor may be as simple as a situation in which Mother won’t buy candy for Billy. If Billy has not learned children’s stress management, he may respond with a tantrum.
What Is A Tantrum?
Tantrums are emotional outbursts, usually made by young children between the ages of 3 and 6. Children’s stress management, or rather, the lack of children’s stress management, is evidenced in tantrums. Most children who throw tantrums do so when they are upset or bothered. They are responding to situations or events that make demands on them. They feel that they cannot control the situation, and they become angry or frustrated. Those feelings cause the body to produce “fight or flight” response to the situation. The child chooses “fight” in the form of bad temper and a tantrum. They have not learned children’s stress management.
Many tantrums children throw are an effort to get something they have been denied. In our illustration above, Mother denied Billy candy. The demand placed on Billy is to submit, but Billy does not choose to submit. Since he cannot make Mother buy candy, he becomes angry. His body produces a “fight or flight” response and Billy begins kicking Mother. He lashes out with his fists. He screams. He cries. Finally, Billy flings himself on the floor, rejecting rational thinking in his distress.
Children’s Stress Management
Young boys and girls can learn children’s stress management techniques that will help them handle tantrums as well as other stress. The early years, up until age 6, are the best time to learn children’s stress management. Not only will you help your young children be happier, you will also prepare them for handling stress in adulthood.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
Children learn by example, so the best way to teach your children stress management is to practice these techniques and strategies yourself.
- Healthful diet. This is paramount for children’s stress management and yours. A healthful diet will strengthen your body to handle demands.
- Exercise. Active games, outdoor activities, and walks with your children will help their bodies relax, making children’s stress management easier.
- Structure. Children’s stress management is facilitated by maintaining a structured environment. Boundaries and rules offer security – even a rule about buying no candy.
- Time. Effective children’s stress management requires time spent with you. Read together. Play together. Walk together. Your child will be able to handle demands better if you are there.
- Touch. Hugs and other gentle touches are vital to children’s stress management. Give extra, unexpected hugs. Try a gentle massage to work tension out of your child’s back and shoulders.
- Laughter. Laughter is good medicine. The word “eustress” carries the meaning of joy and laughter. Help your children manage stress by laughing when they feel overwhelmed. Turn distress into eustress.
Stress is a part of every life. Children’s stress management can turn it from bad stress into good stress.