Image by Teodoro S Gruhl

Lately my beautiful four year old delight has been screaming, hitting, kicking the be-jeez-wax out of me. Tiring for her and me! But not the end of the world.

She is a passionate little girl and to that I say “Hooray!”. There are so many qualities within this zeal that will ultimately make her a happy and successful person. But what to do with the moments of extreme emotion? As an emotional person myself, I kinda understand how it feels to be out of control. When you reach the pinnacle of anger you just lose all capacity to think clearly and it is extremely difficult to calm down.

Generally, I try to catch her before the explosion but sometimes that is impossible. She’s on a path and there’s no stopping it! Sometimes (just between you and me) I think it’s good that she pushes the boundaries. How else does a child learn right from wrong? But it is exhausting. So what to do? Here’a a few ideas for coping with the emotionally intelligent…

  1. Time out. This doesn’t always work but it is the first thing I do, just to give her space to calm down on her own. Sometimes it is impossible because she is still so little and needs guidance, so then I step in with my bag of tricks
  2. This one depends on the child, but my kiddo generally responds to touch. So I try and give her a cuddle,…if she lets me. I stroke her arm just to encourage the body to physically relax
  3. I have stolen this step from my smart as smart husband. He holds up five fingers, pretending it is a birthday cake with candles. Then the little one blows out the candles one by one. If she is still not calm, we do it again. A birthday cake is a happy thought too… Maria would be proud!
  4. Distraction. If the beloved birthday cake trick has run its course, the next thing is finding something to take her mind off the issue. For example; after a bout of kicking and hitting, getting all fired up, I threatened to take my daughter’s beloved ducky away for one night if she continued kicking me. She did! With a large gulp and added parental guilt I did it and all hell broke loose. All she could think about was the duck. Eventually, she was distracted with a bath and the promise of a bit of Barbie movie (promised before the big hoo-ha) and she calmed down. The consequence still stood but the thought of the Barbie movie calmed her down. She could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

There are no recipes. It is completely trial and error, listening and understanding how your kid ticks. I have made my fair share of errors. In the end you have to respect who your kid is and walk with them through the ups and downs forever loving who they were made to be.