It goes without saying, that if you are going to help your child manage their emotions, you need to manage yours first.
In fact, I wrote a whole blog post on managing your own emotions in the midst of a toddler melt-down. You can read it by clicking here.
Short on time? Here is the self-work you need to do BEFORE you handle the crazy toddler:
What am I feeling, right now about my child's behavior?
What am I thinking about their behavior?
When my kiddo loses their shit, how do I want to feel in that moment?
In order to feel that way about my situation with my kiddo, what thought do I need to have?
Once you've handled your own shit by being intentional with your own emotions and thoughts, you will be able to work with your kiddo without projecting your own irritation, frustrations and baggage onto them.
You can help them manage their out-of-control behavior while you stay in control (like a chill flight attendant during a turbulent flight).
So you ready my cool cucumber?
Once you've managed your own mind, here is how you will calm the raging toddler.
Step 1: Get down on the child's level. When they start to lose their minds, no matter where you are at, get physically down at their level and look them in the eye.
Step 2: Name the feeling they are having. Speak it out loud to them. Give that feeling a name!
Step 3: Suggest the thought they might be having that could produce that feeling for them.
Your statement to the screaming toddler might look like:
“It looks like you are feeling angry. Perhaps you are feeling angry because you did not want me to cut the crust off of your peanut butter sandwich?”
By helping your child name and identify their feelings and thoughts, you are supporting the development of their prefrontal cortex (which leads to self-management and emotional regulation). And you are strengthening your own neural pathways responsible for the emotion of empathy.
Pretty cool, huh?
Sure, there are hundreds of different child development theories that will tell you different things about your raging toddler.
But the most important thing you can do for your toddler is for you to first handle your emotions, and then teach them how to handle theirs.
Cheers to raising emotionally resilient and intelligent humans!