September 17th, 2007
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Continued from here

If you don’t know why your child is raging, take your best shot. If your child has been raging for weeks, months or years, and up until now you have interpreted it as drama, you might be shocked at how changing your approach to the tantrum (eventually) changes the outcome. Label the origin of the tantrum as anything you know about your child’s past that would make any child angry. For an internationally adopted child, talk about the blue baby syndrome. Talk about abandonment. Talk about fear, and hunger, and loneliness. Many domestically adopted children or foster children have plenty in their histories to be angry or sad about. Just start empathizing, but do it without turning the scene into a pity party. You must convey sympathy for the circumstances at the same time you send a message that the child has the ability and the tools to master his or her emotions. Additionally, you let the child know by your words and your actions that you will help them through this journey, even as you acknowledge that the journey is theirs to make.


If the child is young enough or amenable to the idea of sitting together or rocking, don’t pass up this opportunity. If you can, scoop up your child while they are still raging and head for the couch or rocking chair. For an older child, hug them while they are raging (if you safely can) or perhaps just sit next to them or near them while they rage. If your instincts tell you the child needs more space, provide that space but check back frequently. When your child has calmed down, sit next to them and see what unfolds. If this is an entirely different approach than you have taken in the past, give your child time to adjust to the new venue. Don’t immediately expect in depth, candid dialog about serious personal issues. Give it time. Just your presence alone will start the ball rolling. Your quiet acceptance and support of your child’s deep feelings will send a strong message of value without you ever having to open your mouth.

To be continued …

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2 Responses to “Take a different approach to the tantrum …”

  1. Kelly says:

    This reminds me of our weekend with Sammy. He had been beyond horrible to me because I caught him with cigarettes and a lighter. Stolen cigarettes on top of it.

    He called me nastier, more fowl things he has ever done. My breathing was cause for a meltdown. The in-home therapist came Sunday afternoon. Before the session was over, Sammy was laying next to me on the couch, under the blanket with me.

    Whether it was a show for the therapist, or not, he got out of his hatred and we were able to “enjoy” the rest of the visit.

  2. betsmom says:

    Ahhhh Nancy, thank you.

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