Temper Tantrums……Not Just for Toddlers Anymore:

How those intense feelings can get in the way

being in tune with anger graph

Strategies to Help…How do we Provide Support?

In order to work together with those who do not regulate easily, it is important to join together with them so that we are on the same page. Here are a few strategies I suggest for working together with those who are working to regulate themselves more easily, and who struggle with that.

  1. Work to recognize that some children or adults put a very strong emphasis on their schedule, while others put much less emphasis on that. It is important to respect the schedules of those who need their structure and routine, and to also realize there are those who do not need it as much. Those who need it less may step on the toes of those who do need it, not recognizing or respecting how important it is to ones who craze structure and routine.
  2. Communicate well with both children and adults about a change in schedule. What may seem like an innocent request to you but may be devastating to someone who regulates themselves by that. Recognizing the effects that may occur from this distuption will help in communication.
  3. Work to give choice as much as possible. Part of the reasons this has been diagnosed as Oppositional Defiant Disorder in the past is because of the very strong feelings that come with being told to do something without choice. So, giving children a choice in foods they eat, clothes they wear, and other things can help with this change in routine, which affects regulation.
  4. Work on mindfulness techniques. Most people have a sense that they prefer to use to calm down. Some use music, some use things to look at it, for others it is sense of smell. Plan with the people you are working with to figure out which sense is most likely to help them calm down quickly, and then help them develop a plan to do it. A song, looking at a lake or a picture of a lake, looking at a tree, or smelling cookies baking can all be things that affect this sense of regulation.
  5. Deep Breathing is the go-to technique that I teach to help with regulation. I also practice it when we are in therapy. As I notice myself feeling agitated, or the person I am working with in therapy getting agitated, I will count to 4 breathing in, hold for 4, and release for 6. We repeat that a couple of times as we meet throughout the time they are there to help them get into the habit of recognizing when they need it. When I feel frustrated or notice frustration with the person with whom I’m working, I’ll check in by asking ‘are you getting frustrated?’, which helps them put words to their feeling, then practice a mindfulness technique giving choice about which one they use. This skill particularly works on 13–14 year olds, who have lots of feelings and not a lot of words to explain them.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Terri Parke

A Licensed Professional Counselor who writes about family, trauma and daily observations. website: www.terriswritings.com