Confinement is hopelessly affecting the whole of society, regardless of how old we are. Both children, adolescents and adults suffer from stress and anxiety symptoms resulting from several weeks confined to their homes. For the little ones, this situation can generate mood and sleep disorders that are difficult to control on their own, as they still do not have enough autonomy and learning to deal with these kinds of emotions. Tantrums are, in fact, a consequence of a loss of control of the emotions of the little ones, which generates stress and anxiety and commonly leads to crying. In these cases, parents become their guide and role model to learn to cope with the anxiety of confinement and make coexistence easier for the whole family.
In a situation in which many families are having difficult times with the little ones, from Aegon they have prepared a document with a series of tips to deal with the anxiety and tantrums of the little ones during confinement.
- Keep calm and be patient
In a tantrum, the big key is to stay calm throughout the process until the child calms down. “Patience is essential to avoid losing your nerves in the face of a tantrum and to act impulsively, getting angry and arguing with our son. That will only generate more tension and worsen the situation, “maintains Belén González, Health Director of Aegon .
In these cases, it is advisable to wait until the situation calms down, continue to do our homework and stand firm against possible tantrums. “A tantrum can be a way of expressing stress and exhaustion, but it is also a way of attracting attention,” recalls González. “As parents, we must be able to deal with the despair and stress that these moments generate and remain impassive in the face of the situation, but not completely disengaged. Ultimately, many of these behaviors will be the result of a shared feeling of social isolation. Therefore, if we feel that we are at the limit, it is advisable to be away for a moment to relaxand not react in front of children or, to the extent possible, delegate the work to someone else.
Once the situation calms down, it is important to sit down and talk to our children and build a space for communication where we encourage them to explain what is happening to them. In the times we live in today, coexistence is a fundamental aspect for confinement to be coped in the best possible way and for this, communication is key to maintaining tranquility at home . “In this situation, we should allow our son to explain what is happening to him or what is troubling him and try to give realistic and positive solutions, encouraging them to speak and identify their feelings and supporting them in the search for alternatives to deal with their concerns,” they recommend. .
- The technique of “letting be”
In a context like the current one, a large part of the tantrums derive from anxiety as a consequence of confinement. In this situation, the little ones may feel stressed, frustrated and overcome by isolation and lose control of their emotions, leading to a tantrum or tantrum. To deal with them there are various techniques recommended by experts.
Among them we find the so-called time-out technique, that is, the therapy that consists of modifying behavior by distancing children – and adults – from what generates anger or conflict. However, in the current situation in society, this alternative would be more recommended for conflicts between adults rather than children. “Many of the children’s tantrums these days stem from the state of confinement we are in,” he says.
Belén González. “Therefore, sending them to their room or isolating them to calm down can be counterproductive in an environment like the current one where a large part of these behaviors are a consequence of that feeling of isolation that we all suffer from,” he recalls.
In these cases, it is best to remain calm and resort to “extinction”, the technique of waiting for the tantrum to pass before paying attention to them again. In this way, they will understand that crying is not a way to get proper attention and as parents we will not reinforce that type of behavior.
- Channel your energy into other activities
Tantrums are actually a form of expression of accumulated energy. In a situation where we all find ourselves at home, the little ones accumulate a large amount of energy that needs to be released throughout the day or expressed through different activities. If this doesn’t happen, this energy is channeled negatively through crying spells, screaming, eating or sleeping problems, and even nightmares. “Tantrum is a normal response to confinement because children, like adults, feel stressed and irascible because they cannot run free or play and socialize with other children,” says Belén González.
For this reason, from Aegon they remember the importance of helping and encouraging the little ones to stay active, play and share with the family during this confinement. These types of activities will act as receivers of the energy of the little ones and will help to forget their frustration and their desire to go outside for a while.
- Routines, the key to preventing tantrums
Routines are key to avoiding tantrums in children, as they help prevent them. Sometimes these behaviors are derived from hunger, sleep, fatigue or frustration, situations that can be solved through an established routine that is essential during confinement.
“That our children have a schedule of activities can help them feel encouraged and fulfilled, thus avoiding feelings of frustration and exhaustion normally derived from moments of inactivity and boredom,” says Belén González. “In addition, this routine not only helps maintain their mood and release tension, but also favors the productivity of parents, especially those who work from home and face difficulties in reconciling family life and work during confinement, “he recalls.
- Communication and empathy
Once the situation calms down, it is important to sit down and talk to our children and build a space for communication where we encourage them to explain what is happening to them. In today’s times, coexistence is a fundamental aspect for confinement to be coped in the best possible way and for this, communication is key to maintaining tranquility at home. “In this situation, we should allow our son to explain what is happening to him or what worries him and try to give realistic and positive solutions, encouraging them to speak and identify their feelings and supporting them in the search for alternatives to deal with their concerns,” they recommend. .
The key to communication is to empathize with our children and not convey the idea that their tantrum is meaningless. “Once they have calmed down, we must show them that we know they are angry and try to identify the reason for that behavior,” they recommend from Aegon. Once this phase is over, the insurer recommends educating in other ways of channeling frustration and anger, with the aim of teaching the little ones that talking –and not crying-, things can be solved.
- Parents, a role model
“As parents we must set an example of good behavior during this quarantine, ” recalls Belén González. Therefore, we must be able to maintain control in front of a tantrum and wait for the child to calm down before asking him for explanations about what is happening to him. Also, even if this situation is complicated for everyone, we must avoid transmitting our concerns to the little ones. “Children are like sponges that absorb everything around them,” recalls Belén.
“If they see us nervous, fearful, or worried, they are likely to be scared, too, despite not fully understanding what’s going on, and that worry may lead to a tantrum.” Therefore, we should avoid arguing in front of them with other people, getting frustrated when watching the news or aggressively channeling our anger, as they are behaviors that they could imitate at any given time.