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  • Writer's pictureLena Agree JD, PsyD

Help Your Nanny with Your Child "The Whole-Brain Child" Way ~ Tantrums (Part 4 of 4)

Managing Tantrums

No one likes tantrums, especially moms who want their nannies/au pairs to like their children. Unfortunately, every child loses it, so the best you can do is empower your nanny to understand and manage your child’s tantrums in a successful and beneficial way. The “Engage, Don’t Enrage” strategy from The Whole-Brain Child, by Siegel and Bryson, can be a very useful tool. Here's how it works:

Strategy #3: Engage, Don’t Enrage: In the event of a tantrum, FIRST determine whether it is being done intentionally as a strategy in order to get something, or if the child is emotionally overwhelmed. If the child is overwhelmed, then disciplining him/her would lead to increased emotional distress (recall Time-In rather than Time-Out). Instead, the child needs emotional attunement in order to calm down (see, Part 2), followed by encouragement to name the feelings as precisely as possible (see, Part 3)

Determining whether or not your child is overwhelmed, or "flooded" by emotion, can be difficult, And, even if the behavior began as a tactic to get something, it may evolve into an emotionally overwhelming situation for the child, requiring a change in approach. For instance,

If Katy wants another cookie and is denied, she may cry hoping to get the cookie. If she doesn’t get it she may give up and do something else. But, if she continues crying and works herself into a frenzy, she may have become emotionally overwhelmed. In that case, she needs attunement to calm down because she can’t do it on her own.

As a general rule, if you think it’s possible your child is emotionally flooded, then presume that is the case and default to the attunement strategy. You can always switch gears if necessary, and no child has suffered from too much genuine sensitivity and care!

Check out the article on how to help your nanny support your child's language development for more useful tips!

Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, P. H. D. T. P.(2012).The whole-brain child.Random House.

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