One common scenario comes up when I teach mindfulness practices—how to stay calm during tantrums.
Tantrums are a normal part of the parenting experience. And even if you don’t have toddlers, you may have a newborn who has colic or you may have older kids who get really emotional.
Whatever the scenario, if you have kiddos, there is probably some version of a meltdown happening in your home, on occasion.
This is just part of growing up.
But as parents, we don’t have to experience these same frustrations as our kids. I promise you, it’s possible to stay calm during a tantrum.
The secret? Mindfulness practices.
5 Ways For Parents To Center Themselves During Tantrums
If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or unable to handle your child’s tantrums, this is normal.
It’s your nervous system reacting to a perceived danger in your environment. Your brain thinks that something has gone wrong and you need to fix it ASAP.
This is the default response. You go into survival mode trying to stop the tantrum, and in doing so, get worked up yourself.
While this is normal, it’s not the only way. You can reprogram your brain and body to respond differently to these outbursts, so that little by little you feel more calm through them (and can still show your kids the loving support you want to).
The power of a pause cannot be underestimated.
When you find yourself worked up, remind yourself to take a pause.
That’s it. Just practice this in the moment. You’ll add space in between your emotion and your reaction, which is all you need to choose a different action to take. It all starts in this space of awareness.
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2. Place your hand on your heart and take three deep breaths.
When you place your hand on your heart you practice self compassion through physical touch, which is a form of self soothing.
Add to this, a few deep breaths and you’ll start to regulate your nervous system out of the survival (fight, flight, freeze, and fawn mode) and into a state of calm.
Again with this exercise, practice is the key. The more you do it, the more quickly you’ll get to a state of calm.
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3. Repeat this mantra: “I am okay. They are okay. We can handle this.”
Your thoughts always create your thinking, but in the middle of a tantrum, it feels like your child is creating your feelings—that if they would calm down, you could be calm.
With a little help, you can bring yourself back to a calm state, regardless of what’s happening with your kids.
Try to repeat the mantra: “I’m okay. They are okay, We can handle this.”
This is a way for you to talk back to your brain that’s being triggered into survival mode to show it that this isn’t a real emergency. Everyone is safe and okay. And this will pass.
You can repeat it silently, to yourself, over and over as a way to soothe yourself to a state of calm, while you assist your child.
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4. Visualize how you want to show up.
Think of your kids as having their own movies. They are the leading star in each of their respective films. You are simply on the sidelines watching the movie. You don’t know how it’s going to play out.
Now do the same for yourself. You are the star of your movie. Imagine your child plays their part in their film just as they have been (having tantrums).
Then ask yourself…
- How do I want to show up when they act like that?
- How do I want to feel?
- What do I want to say?
- What kind of mom do I want to be?
Most likely you don’t want to be happy your child is melting down. But you probably also don’t want to be having your own meltdown.
So, what does it look like for you to respond calmly? Play that movie out in your mind. Really practice visualizing this.
The more you see yourself as the mom who stays calm during tantrums, the more you’ll become that person.
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5. Practice the 10 minutes of silent meditation.
To help regulate your nervous system out of survival mode on a regular basis, start practicing a simple 10 minutes of silent meditation.
Set your timer for 10 minutes. Sit down and close your eyes. Breathe in and out quietly. Focus your attention on your body, your breath, and/or any white noise in your environment. That’s it.
This is a practice I’ve been doing and absolutely love.
You can learn more about how to do it on my Instagram @nataliebaconcoaching.
A Final Note
You’re not doing anything wrong as a parent if your child is having tantrums. They’re learning and growing and tantrums are just a part of the process.
While you can’t control how your kids show up, you can control how you show up. And that is enough.