We all know that children, especially toddlers, have fits. They’re called fits, temper tantrums, meltdowns, you name it. In this article, I will make it easy and just call it a fit. These can be one of the most stressful things for parents, especially when we’re out in public when the fit starts. It’s frustrating, it’s embarrassing, and you can’t help but notice all of the evil bad mommy glares coming straight at you from strangers that seem to have never seen a temper tantrum before. Right?
Well, here’s some help for parent, I’m going to talk about how to stop a fit. My son had many of these. They started right around age 2 and I think we finally got a good handle on them by age 5. That doesn’t mean they stopped happening. It means we learned how to better cope with them and stop them before they got out of control. And they did get out of control. Without intervention, my son’s meltdowns would turn into hyperventilating.
Now when I first started doing this, I had no idea it was a technique that somebody had already thought of. I just started doing it on my own and later found out it was the right way to go. The thing about tantrums is that we want to start teaching self-control early on. Many parents tell their kids to calm down. But do the kids really know what that means? Do they know how to calm down? We forget that they don’t have our experience.
So we need to teach them self-control, and we need to teach them how to calm down. To do this effectively, we must remain calm when teaching them how to behave. Yeah, I know, that’s easier said than done when your boy is kicking, screaming, and throwing a fit. So here’s what I do, I use the S.T.A.R. technique.
Take a deep breath
The first time I did this, I got down on my knees in front of my upset 3 year old. I didn’t touch him, I looked him in the eyes and very calmly said, “Stop.” Amazingly enough, he stopped screaming. I stayed calm and somewhat quiet and I said, “Take a deep breath.” I showed him how to take a deep breath and I did it with him as I said, “Just relax.” It took less than 60 seconds to get him from a full fledge meltdown to a somewhat calm boy that could talk to me in a slightly upset tone.
Now that the fit had stopped, I told my 3 year old, “It is okay to get mad at mommy. It is not okay to throw a fit. Now take another deep breath and tell me quietly what it is that you want.” He took another breath and his little eyes welled up again and he said, “I don’t want to go night-night.” I tried as hard as I could not to grin from ear to ear knowing that I had just won this battle for the first time ever. So I smiled, just a little, and said to him, “Well what is it that you do want?” He said he wanted to play. I said, “It’s too late to play tonight. If you want to play, then you have to go night-night first. And then you can play as soon as you wake up.” It worked. I got him to stop the fit. I also changed his focus from what he didn’t want, to what he did want. And then I told him how to get it.
I can’t say that this will work with all ADHD children, every child is different. This is simply what worked for me. The trick is to keep your mind on the objective. The objective isn’t to stop the fit. The objective is to teach them self-control. By doing that, the fits will stop on their own. You’re simply teaching them how to calm themselves down and get back to a point where they can control themselves. Find a method that works, S.T.A.R. worked for me, and then stick to it! Repetition is the key with ADHD. You have to be consistent above all else.
This was my experience, it may not work for everybody. But my son is now 9 years old and effectively calms himself down when I’m not around to help him. And he uses S.T.A.R. As always, if you have an experience to share, please do comment below and share it with us. It takes a village…
If you have any questions or would like to share your personal experience, please be sure to leave a comment below by clicking on the response link next to my name. I welcome all feedback and will respond to each comment.