Practical Tips for Helping Kids De-Escalate

How can we help our kids learn self control? How can we reduce tantrums? What skills do our children need when they are escalating out of control? Host Dawn Davenport, Executive Director of Creating a Family, the national infertility & adoption education and support nonprofit, interviews Dr. Ross Greene, clinical child psychologist who was on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for 20+ years, and is the author of “Raising Human Beings” and “The Explosive Child”.

Hit the Highlights
  • How do normal healthy kids develop the ability to control their emotions?
  • What is age appropriate as far as out of control type of behavior?
  • How does early trauma (abuse, neglect, institutionalization) affect the ability of a child to self-regulate?
  • What do you mean by “kids do well if they can”.
  • Why are some kids more flexible to the everyday changes that life presents than others?
  • You talk about lagging skills and unsolved problems. What do you mean by these terms? Find what reliably and predictably sets your child off.
  • Practical tips for handling this situation: (What skills is this child lacking and what triggers him.) My foster son has been with us for almost 18 months. He’s 8 and a great kid. EXCEPT, he can’t stand to hear the word no. You asked for an example so here is one that happened last week. He and my two other kids were with me at the grocery store for a quick trip. I prepared him in advance that we were going to buy just what we needed for dinner and we would not be buying candy or toys. I asked him if he understood. He said yes. All was fine until we walked past the cheap stupid plastic toys near checkout. He started to beg for one. I said no and he fell apart. I’m talking a major tantrum. I could see it coming as soon as I said no, but I can’t figure out how to head it off once he starts going down that escalation road.
  • Practical tips for handling: My daughter has to be on such a rigid schedule in order to behave. It is absolutely exhausting us. Life simply isn’t that predictable. I’ll be honest that I struggle with maintaining a routine, but in the last year I have really tried. I’m worn out. If anything changes she falls apart. I know it’s going to happen, but I can’t always make life follow the same pattern. She is 6 and has been with us for 4 years.
  • Practical Tips for handling: Our middle daughter loves to watch YouTube videos. We have reasonable expectations around screen time. We also have 4 kids. The other 3 are responsive to our rules. The daughter is not. She’s 11, almost 12. She can’t seem to transition from watching her videos to doing anything else. If we take them away completely she goes berserk. How can we help her use screens in a reasonable way. We can’t ban them entirely because it isn’t fair to our other kids.
  • Some of the difficulties some kids have which leads to escalating out of control behaviors.
  • Importance of identifying our child’s triggers. Who, what, where, and when our kid usually explodes?
  • I love the quote: Good parenting means being responsive to the hand you’ve been dealt.
  • Resource: Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems

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Image credit: Ed Yourdon