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How To Handle Temper Tantrums: Somatic Exercises For Kids

Posted by Liz Tenuto on

If you have kids or toddlers who have BIG meltdowns because they struggle with their BIG feelings, remember that you're not doing anything wrong.

Temper tantrums are a completely normal behavior for kids of all ages to exhibit. But they can also be overwhelming, overstimulating, and can leave you feeling helpless. Which is why understanding why those temper tantrums happen is the first step in empowering you with tools of how approach them.

Why Do Kids Have Temper Tantrums And Emotional Meltdowns?

Emotional meltdowns aren't intentional misbehavior — they're the only way your child knows how to release what they're feeling. During your child's early years, their brain lacks the cognitive ability to express their emotions adequately. Therefore, when their feelings become overwhelming, they resort to tantrums as a way to communicate their distress. As a result, tantrums often manifest through crying, screaming, kicking, hitting, or other challenging behaviors.

Additionally, the region of the brain responsible for emotional regulation (the prefrontal cortex) is still developing in young children. This means that they're not yet equipped with the ability to manage and process their emotions as effectively as adults. Consequently, when faced with strong emotions, children experience a flood of neurotransmitters such as cortisol and adrenaline, leading to an emotional overload that triggers a tantrum.

How To Handle Temper Tantrums And Emotional Meltdowns

The first step in handling tantrums is to approach them with empathy and understanding. Acknowledging and validating a child's emotions can significantly reduce their agitation, as they feel heard and understood. Remind yourself that tantrums are not a personal attack; they're simply a child's way of expressing their inner turmoil.

The second step is providing a guide for how to actually navigate these big emotions they're feeling. And they can do that with somatic movements like somatic exercises.

Somatic exercises allow your child to connect to their inner landscape, giving them the tools and techniques needed to listen to their emotions and their body. These movements aren't about suppressing their emotions — they're about providing the emotional intelligence and self-awareness necessary to express their emotions in a healthy and fun way.

Feel Your Feelings is a collection of somatic exercises to guide kids ages 3-7 through fun and intentional movements, providing your little ones with the tools needed to self-soothe, self-regulate, and calmly express what they're feeling (without the meltdown...).

Each video in Feel Your Feelings contains 2-5 minutes of engaging somatic exercises specifically designed to capture (and keep!) their attention while simultaneously giving YOU the time and space needed to regulate your own emotions so you, too, can navigate the situation in a productive and calm way after having some space. 

Your child will soon be able to recognize when their big feelings become too big to handle, and will empower them to ground themselves through calm through movement.

Understanding the science behind temper tantrums, approaching them with empathy, and utilizing somatic exercises are all healthy ways to support children during these challenging moments. Remember, tantrums are a normal part of development, and with patience and understanding, we can guide our children towards emotional resilience and growth.