When a child looses control of her emotions and throws a tantrum, it often triggers a sense of helplessness in the parent who may be at a loss as to what to do with the screaming child. The cause of the meltdown can seem so futile to us that it is tempting to brush the tantrum away by:
Dismissing their feelings as ridiculous or sending them to a designated “time out corner” (or to their bedroom) where they are expected to reflect on their irrational feelings and calm down by themselves.
Dr Laura Markham demonstrates step-by-step in this detailed article, how by using Empathy we can help a child understand her emotions and learn to deal with them in a less dramatic way. We (the parent) may be upset, angry, disappointed, exasperated or embarrassed by the behaviour but we are the adult in the situation and we are supposed to have more control over our emotions than our children.
Empathy is the capacity to recognise emotions that are being experienced by another being. It is a skill that is gradually developed through life. [Wikipedia]
Putting ourselves in our children’s shoes (or anyone else’s for that matter), helps us not take things personally and therefore takes away the need to “retaliate”. They didn’t mean to hurt us, something was hurting them and they lost control.
Empathy could be the peaceful solution to diffusing tantrums and meltdowns.
Let’s start practicing!