Ryan just returned home from school. Dropping his knapsack at the front door, kicking his shoes into the corner he headed for the T.V.
“No T.V. right now Ryan. Put your things away. You are supposed to do your chores and then you can go outside to play.” said Mom.
“But I want to watch T.V.!”
“Not right now Ryan, put your shoes away.”
“Noooooo, I’m watching tv. All the other kids get to watch T.V.! Why can’t I watch T.V.!”
and he’s off…….challenged with weak emotional controls, Ryan starts to yell, slams his body into the sofa and bursts into tears.
One of the things I do as a child and adolescent counselor is to help my child clients name the problem they are facing; the Worry Bug, the Tantrum Monster, the Perfection Bug, the Checker, the Big Anger. Through our counselling conversations, as children are able to create a name for their problem, they begin to understand the “problem” aside from themselves and not a defect within them. If the problem is outside of self it can be faced and dealt with. The child learns, “I am not the problem, the problem is the problem.” Armed with this way of viewing the world Ryan can begin to find ways to deal with the “Tantrum Monster.”
As parents you can help your child in this way as well. Help your child give it a name, call it something, and mention it when you notice they are getting taken over by it. Point it out to them, “Was that the Worry Bug?” This develops awareness. Encourage this kind of thinking so your child is able to look at the emotion that tricks them or challenges them from time to time. After an angry outburst and there is calmness say, “What was it that took you over when you started screaming yesterday? What was that?” and say, “What does it feel like?”
The key is helping your child be aware by having a name to discuss the problems and then to find ways they can gain strength against the problem. As your child learns to refer to the Tantrum Monster or the Worry Bug you will notice how much more control they gain.