Handling Child Tantrums during Coronavirus
In the same way that it feels like our world has turned upside down in the past couple of months, it is important to keep in mind that your child’s world has also been hugely impacted. Much of what children need in order to thrive has suddenly been stripped away from them with no warning or time to process it.
Young children’s lives often revolve around seeing their friends and having routine and structure in school or at home with their parents and or nannies. Because children have not mastered the ability to cope with their negative feelings in a conducive manner, they communicate through meltdowns and challenging behavior.
With that being said, there are a few things you can do as a parent to best support your child’s needs right now. It is important that you first respond to your child’s challenging behavior with empathy by validating their emotions. After they have calmed down, you can set limits and address why their behavior was not acceptable. This may sound like,
“Wow, you seem so angry, I’m sorry. It’s okay to be mad, but I can’t let you hit your brother.”
Child psychologist, Dr. Tova Klein states, “It might seem strange to respond to misbehavior with support and empathy, but kids right now need much more compassion than ever before.”
Another way you can help your children channel their negative energy is by implementing an attentive, one-on-one playtime with your children every day, even if it’s just for two minutes. This could be a dance party while you make dinner or a music and movement activity like freeze dance. Or just simply snuggle them and make up a silly song together. Allow plenty of time for unstructured, child-directed, and open-ended play.
“Play helps kids process what’s going on in their minds, what’s stressing them out, and allows them to have control,” says Dr. Tina Bryson.
It’s not just your children that you need to think about during these times, either. Remember to be kind to yourself, as well. You also need plenty of self-care!
You may think that you have shielded your children from your anxieties and concerns about the coronavirus, but as Dr. Klein mentions, “Children are sponges for adult emotion and adult worry.”
Additionally, you can’t effectively use these tools if you are depleted and constantly running on empty. So do your best to cut out the things that you are demanding of yourself that are not essential right now. Remember that nothing feels “normal” during these unprecedented times, therefore you don’t have to put the extra pressure on yourself to do everything you had envisioned you would be doing right now. Adjust to the new “normal” by taking a step back, slowing down, and enjoying these precious moments with your loved ones at home!
Sinai Akiba Academy is a private Jewish day school in Los Angeles, serving students in Early Childhood through Grade 8. We also offer a variety of parenting classes and programs for children through our Parenting Center.A Sinai Temple school.