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How To Deal with Tantrums: Try the "Time-in" Technique

Updated: May 23

Like a guizer that strikes hot and strikes fast, your toddler or family member is struggling through a tough emotion and now they are throwing a tantrum. It is hard to deal with tantrums, especially in the moment.

Is there something I can do about my child's tantrum?

Dealing with tantrums can be difficult. Being a mom of a daughter who tantrums regularly, I really sought to find the solution that could best help her.

A method called "time-in" came to me after reading a portion of, "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk," by Joanna Faber. It broke through the noise in my head, and I knew I had to try it.

Time-in is a long-term solution to support your child or family members through their triggers, hard emotions, and self-expression.

Time-in is the opposite of Time-out:

Time-outs usually involve stationary alone-ness in a corner or room somewhere, hoping that the child is taking the time to figure out what they did.

Time-in's are centered around connecting and building understanding.

Both time-in's and time-outs are effective in their own way.

How do I know when it is a good time to do a "time-in"?

Time-in's are effective when your child is feeling emotional, anxious, depressed, aloof, or distant. If you know your child's love language, combining time-in's with their love language can have a greatly stabilize the child.

The key is to build time-in sessions throughout the day. The purpose is to cultivate connections with that child or family member can lean-on as they are triggered or experiencing high-level "guizer" emotions.

How to effectively create an effective time-in session;

  1. Identify the Need: Ask yourself, what is needed? Identify the need or where things began to shift either inside of you or through the behavior of the child.

  2. Stop and Make Eye Contact: It is important to completely stop and give undivided attention to your child.

  3. Listen: There is such power in listening. Remove from your mind what you think is going on and embrace what is. This means not thinking about what to say next or to bring forward and finish their thoughts. You may have an idea of what is going on and that is good to be preceptive, it is also good to really listen and to listen for how their voice shifts, how they look at you, and how they are really feeling not just what they are saying. This takes practice and the key is to always be rooted in love. When in doubt, start with love.

  4. Hold space: If you are not the one who is struggling and overwhelming then it is time to hold space. This means being willing to create a space where you stay strong in your emotions, which are open, and then allowing the person metaphorically to step into that emotional stable place. This podcast helped me in learning how to hold space (Holding Space – Brooke Snow) If it is you who is overwhelmed, then take time to center yourself, to understand what is going on, and then practice holding that space for yourself as you continue to converse and connect with those in your life.

  5. Help and Speak Truth: Help your child know you see them, that you want to talk with them. This can include eye contact, small touch points on the arm between the elbow and the shoulder, snuggles or indication of where someone can sit close to you so that you can have a quality conversation that is more personal, and/or gravitating towards them and relaxing body language will assist in creating the right environment.

A TIME-IN Example:

Here is an example from my own life. My daughter is vivacious and has a huge range of emotional experiences throughout the day. In the mornings, I start the day off with a snuggle in mommy's bed "time-in" session.

I go through the five steps above. I ask her what she would like to do today and then I continue to gently touch her arm (her love language is touch). The session ends with her getting up out of my bed and she continues her morning playing or something. The session has been completed.

The day goes on and she starts getting frustrated and angry at her little sister. I realize that she is about to tantrum after giving back a toy that she took. I ask her to come sit with me. I hold her. I listen to how she feels, and I validate that she did want the toy she took, I share what she can do, and I share with her that I know she is kind. I do a recentering exercise. This is an effective "time-in" session together because now she is more balanced for playtime with her sister.

Start today to deal with future tantrums as you seek to add a little more "time-in's" to your daily routine and connect more deeply with your children or family members.

What is your first impression of time-in’s? Do you feel that time-ins can help a certain someone in your life? Please share in the comments below.

If you are seeking more balance and living in your potential, please consider looking at these opportunities, here.

This article was written by: Kaitlyn Andrews, Life Coach for Women

a child throwing a tantrum on the floor

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