How to deal with your child’s tantrum – Decoding Jah and Understanding his Sensory Processing Needs

I have read books previously on Raising a Spirited Child, Understanding Highly Sensitive children and the likes and have found them very useful in helping me to understand Jah especially when he was in what we deemed as the terrible twos. More recently I have also come across a resource/ compilation from several mummy bloggers on the topic of Sensory Processing Disorder in children as well as whether tantrums are due to behavior, sensory or both. The article found here and the compilation of Everyday Kids Behaviour decoded, further reinforced the fact that I am not alone when it comes to dealing with my kid’s everyday tantrums.

No, don’t get me wrong I am not saying that Jah has Sensory Processing Disorder, kids who have SPD go through a lot worse tantrums and are probably harder to pacifiy. But if you read the article you may notice that it talks about all kids in general having sensory needs that need to be met. This tells me that my kid is not ‘weird’ or bratty or being a pain when he screams “its too loud!” and proceeds to be inconsolable. It also reminds me that there is nothing wrong in me ‘anticipating’ a tantrum before it happens and finding ways to avoid it. Honestly it is easier on everyone if we avoid the tantrum from happening rather than have a frustrated parent screaming at a ‘tantrum throwing’ crying kid.

So for people who may question why I ‘tiptoe’ around my kid and let him ‘dictate’ how things are done sometimes or ‘pander’ at his demands. It’s because I know that most of these demands are not made because he is a horrible kid but because he has some sensory needs that needs to be fulfilled.

For people who are perhaps also trying to decode their own children, I would recommend you read the above articles and I will share some of the kid behaviors that we personally struggle with at home and how we attempt to address it most times.

Fear of Loud Noises/ Loud Noises causes Stress

Jah is sensitive to loud noises and by that I don’t just mean the loud noises made by the jets flying by during the Airshow or those made by the Lion Dance Troupes during Chinese New Year. He is especially sensitive to noises. My hairdryer has two modes, he cannot tolerate it when I switch it on to High, it bothers him. He holds his hands to his ears and cowers, almost as if the sound is hurting his ears. Now that he is able to talk, he tells me “mummy it’s too loud, its painful!” and makes (demands) me switch it off. Anyone who witnesses this would either think I’m a pushover and/or my son is extremely rude and bratty. But I know better, the loud sound hurts his ears and it causes him a lot of anxiety. Just because we don’t experience it ourselves, doesn’t mean it is not real.

The loud booming voice over a microphone also causes him much anxiety especially in an enclosed area. He needs time to come to terms with the sounds. He needs to be prepped.

Bothered by the music but still coping...

Bothered by the music but still coping…

To ensure I don’t get a screaming/ crying kid everytime I switch on something loud or when I need to blow my hair in the mornings. I make sure that he is ready for the sound. I will ask for his ‘permission’ to switch it to Low or I will ask if he would like to leave the room so I can switch it to High. It may seem like a lot of power to accord a child but I don’t think it’s right to expect your child to deal with the discomfort just because you are the parent and you say so.

Here are two more links from Enchanted Home Schooling Mom and Bare Feet On the DashBoard, on what you can do if your child has a fear of loud noises or is anxious by it.

Hyperactive

Honestly I hate the term, hyperactive because when a person says that about my child, I don’t know if they really just mean oh he is a really active boy or he is hyperactive (in the medical sense). Yes Jah is very active, he needs a lot of outdoor activities and I am super glad for a childcare/ school that can offer him that for most part of the week. We noticed a long time ago then his behavior would ‘deteriorate’ over the course of the day/ weekend if we had chosen to coop him up at home on Saturday/ Sunday mornings. I can’t really blame him.Who likes being cooped up?He needs physical activities, wide open space and the great outdoors to keep him happy and cooperative.  So for those who wonder how we manage weekend outings every week or why we insist on doing it? It’s because we know that this will keep our kids happy and ensure a happier less stressful time for everyone. Win-win for everyone!

A park day kind of morning

A park day kind of morning

A Waterplay kind of day

A Waterplay kind of day

For more suggestions for the active little ones, check out the article from Wild Flower Ramblings.

 Meltdowns

I’m sure every parent to a toddler/ young child can identify with this word. Meltdown. To be fair, the meltdown is often not without reason. Sure it may happen because the child cannot get his/her way and with those kind of meltdown, I found it helpful to prep the kid beforehand/ take the kid away from the situation and have a firm but kind talk. You can’t expect to bring a child to a toy store and then tell him that he can’t buy a toy right? A child is not going to have the self-control to discern that. We found it helpful to always get Jah’s buy-in beforehand.  Eg. Jah, we can go to the toy shop to walk around but we cannot buy any toys today. If you think you can handle that then we can go, if not then we will go another day. This usually works.

We also prep him before hand if we are going somewhere where we are expecting many new faces/ places where he might be overwhelmed by the crowd/ an unfamiliar place etc. This gives him time to internalize, decide if he can cope with the situation and get his ‘assurance or promise’ that he will be ok with it. We have had Jah tell us that he thinks he won’t be able to ‘handle’ it at an event  and would much rather stay at home with his auntie. This happened the night before the event and I was actually glad that he felt confident to tell me that rather than have him suffer a meltdown at the event (which definitely would have happened).

There are some adults who hate surprises and the same goes for kids. There are some kids who can’t deal with surprises or sudden changes or things that happen out of their routine and we have to respect that.

We were not expecting a photo op and I didn't prep him for it..he absolutely wanted to do it again once we got to the car..

We were not expecting a photo op and I didn’t prep him for it..he absolutely wanted to do it again once we got to the car..

We have not decoded this little lady here so meltdowns are aplenty

We have not decoded this little lady here so meltdowns are aplenty

Here’s another look at meltdowns and some of the possible triggers from Preschool Inspirations

Don’t be mistaken, we don’t have it all figured out. Yes, we most definitely run out of patience too and are still learning what makes our kids tick. In fact we have not decoded Bella yet! Someone save me!! :p But for now these ‘techniques’ work for us and for Jah (most times) and perhaps the resources on Sensory Processing Disorder and Sensory Needs can help you and I to figure out our kids and what has been causing those ‘tantrums’. Who ever said parenting was easy right? 🙂

JahBella’s Mummy

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