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Mindful ActivityHelp During a Tantrum

Help During a Tantrum

When kids are going through big emotions, try this highly effective ‘LED’ exercise: Label the feeling, Empathize with the situation, and Deliver your message.

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Hey all, Jon again. In my lived experience as a parent, in my clinical practice, it's moments of high distress expressed emotions from children that are so challenging to figure out what the right thing to do is. My child is yelling, my child is stamping, my child is hitting. They are so sad and tearful in front of me. What am I supposed to do as a parent? And so it's a very complicated moment for sure. Firstly, we are gonna need to think about taking a moment to check in internally for ourselves and are we ready to use any strategies? So taking a breath to be in the present moment, and when we see our child in distress, we want to shine a light on it, and not just any light. We want the best possible light. And nowadays those are those awesome LED lights. LED stands for an approach that we can use from so many emotions that our child might face. L stands for label. So our first approach when we see a big emotion is to try to label it. Our label is an outreach. It's an attempt to put a name on something that may be just a surge of feeling for our child. Okay, what if I get it wrong? They'll correct you. To further that validation process, we lead into E, which is for empathize, and this is when we're going to look at our child and think mostly about what they're experiencing and what it might be like to deal with that. Oh, it's so hard to be disappointed when things don't work out the way you hoped. So in our empathy moment, we are trying to validate or support that having an emotion would make sense. Sometimes when people hear empathy, they say like, "Well, you know, I don't know if I would've felt the same way." That's okay. You're talking about what it would be like to have their feeling that you labeled. So label, empathize, and then we come to D, and this is where we have to take a moment to look and think about our current situation. Is the frustration around some activity we have to do? Like we have to put our shoes on to go out for today. We might need to deliver, D for deliver a message. We are gonna have to put our shoes on, even though tying them is so frustrating. We might instead not be as time bound. Maybe the frustration is that they just had a friend cancel on a sleepover party and they're overwhelmed. So we might have an opportunity to use D as distract. Let's take five minutes and just bang on the drum as loud as we can. Let's try and do some jumping jacks. So these may not be towards a specific aim in distract, but instead trying to help sort of dissipate some of the energy of this big emotion. So D is...


TypeMindful Activity
Duration5 min

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  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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