TANTRUMS and the Stubborn Child

So, Kloppenmum-ers I had the privilege of two children melting down this week – oh the joys!

The first was our eight year-old, our usually lovely boy with an Owl temperament. It started as a simple Possession Tantrum over a few balloons and escalated rapidly. He was  a bit tired and with an Owl temperament, so anything can be a trigger for him feeling overwhelmed and then melting down.  He leapt on to Karpman’s Drama Triangle as a victim, and really wanted me to join him there too, as a rescuer or persecutor, to reinforce the pattern. My job was to stay calm and stay emotionally detached until he decompressed enough to disengage from the drama – all the while holding the boundary.

As I have found before with this temperament, Random Words and Phrases – that usually work so well with other children, didn’t work. He was also too deeply embedded in his Flesh Brain (fight/flight) system to understand any explanations, and no explanations would have been adequate – his emotional state was so intense. He was furious and threatening to hurt the other boys. I removed him from their general vicinity.

Part Two involved him outside throwing the contents of our recycling bins all over the deck and tipping over the outdoor furniture. At this point he was deeply stubborn and not wanting to interact with anyone. He was deep in his sense of righteousness. He was digging himself deeper into a hole. He could only make things worse, unless I found him a way out of the hole – without engaging in the drama. Talk about parenting on a tight-rope!

Thanks to experience, it was a simple situation to sort. I put my head out the door and told him I would help him to tidy up when he was ready to do so, but that I wasn’t allowing a violent child near the others. I reminded him that I loved him but that I did not love the drama. (Separating him from his behaviour…he’s a good kid, his behaviour was momentarily out of line.) I reminded him he is allowed to be angry but that violence is not anger. It’s violence. Then I left him alone and gave him the space to decide what would happen next.

He stayed in his hole for about another 10 minutes – attempting to damage the house and continuing to threaten the other boys. I continued with my chores and each time there was the real threat of damage to the house I reminded him *that* wasn’t O’Kay behaviour and that I was ready to help whenever he was ready.

Eventually, he grudgingly muttered that he was ready to tidy up. I immediately stopped what I was doing, and went to help. I helped as long as he was working too. I was NOT there to rescue him and reinforce his role as a victim on the drama triangle by doing the work for him. I was there to emotionally and physically support him coming out of a rage, not leave him to struggle further. I was there to help turn off the flow of cortisol that was helping him to learn, before it became toxic.

There were a few false starts but we actually had the mess sorted within a couple of minutes. He spontaneously apologised for the threat of violence and mess, and all relationships were well on the way to being repaired. He made several further efforts to ensure that he and I were on good terms during the rest of the evening.

Over the years we have done a lot of work around,  ‘the person rupturing a relationship is responsible for its repair’. (There are three entities in any relationship: individual one, individual two, and the relationship itself.)

He was serene from then until bedtime. It was as if he had found internal peace.


There have been no further drama over balloons.

For more innovative and science based information on tantrums you could go and buy my book – All About Tantrums: Why we have them, How to prevent them, What to do when they happen. There’s the link riiiiiiiiight there:  https://www.createspace.com/3893965

 ‘All About Tantrums’ is also now available for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=all+about+tantrums+kindle

About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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4 Responses to TANTRUMS and the Stubborn Child

  1. Sari Grove says:

    Nitrogen can cause aggressiveness…(found in green vegetables)…Carbon is its opposite…(Kidneys)…Olive oil is a Carbon…Throw some olive oil into vegetable meals…Settles down the aggressiveness…

    • Hey, thanks, but they have olive oil pretty much every day…
      The aggression is always short lived and seems to fit into the bounds of ‘normal’, particularly for households full of boys who all think they are the alpha male. Most of the time they are great mates and get along just fine.

  2. suevanhattum says:

    Karyn, thank you! I play into it way too much, either becoming the persecutor (blaming him for his craziness) or the victim (hurt that he says he hates me). I will try to channel your calm the next time I need it.

    • Ha! My calm has been learned through the school of hard knocks and real life!! I can’t always manage it, but I do my best and just taking that breathe and metaphoric step back can make all the difference in the world. Good luck!!

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