Tantrums

The trick in getting a tantrum to end as soon as possible, Potegal said, was to get the child past the peaks of anger. Once the child was past being angry, what was left was sadness, and sad children reach out for comfort. The quickest way past the anger, the scientists said, was to do nothing. Of course, that isn’t easy for parents or caregivers to do. [….]

“You know, when children are at the peak of anger and they’re screaming and they’re kicking, probably asking questions might prolong that period of anger,” said Green. “It’s difficult for them to process information. And to respond to a question that the parent is asking them may be just adding more information into the system than they can really cope with.” [….]

That’s because, when looked at scientifically, tantrums are no different than thunderstorms or other natural phenomena. Studying them as scientific subjects rather than experiencing them like parents can cause the tantrums to stop feeling traumatic and even become interesting.

– from What’s Behind a Temper Tantrum? on NPR

This may be true for children, and also for adults. I have found the same pattern for myself.

When I get strongly caught up in a belief, what seems to work best is to let it pass – it’s a storm passing through. I may breathe, feel and turn it over to God, shake (TRE), notice it’s happening within and as what I am, give it a voice – write down the beliefs behind it, and perhaps go for a walk. Later, when the storm has passed, I can take the beliefs to inquiry.

I notice it doesn’t work so well if I try to engage with it intellectually while it’s still quite “hot”. Much better to let it pass in kindness and then engage with words if that seems helpful – whether the storm is in someone else or myself.

Note: Seems that there may be a pattern here. (1) Hot tantrum in myself or others. (Any belief is a tantrum and can get hot when triggered strongly.) (2) Let it pass in kindness – a hug, shake, write down the stories, go for a walk. (3) After it has passed, then work with it verbally (for myself, inquiry) if that seems helpful.

Update: An inquiry friend of mine posted this on FB a few days later:

when children have tantrums..we get to choose how to BE with them..either allowing the tantrum and telling them everything is ok…yelling and giving time outs..ignoring them..which seems kinder? How do you sit with yourself when you are having a tantrum. I choose loving me, holding me, comforting me and then I naturally do that for my children too. – SZ

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