When Do-Overs Don’t Work: A Child’s BIG Emotions


I have a defiant child!  His challenging behaviors can be so frustrating as a parent attempting to help him.

Last month, I discussed the “Do-Over” as a technique to teach your child appropriate behavior as an alternative to other forms of discipline.

However, sometimes, such as during this scary blow-up rage at churchDO-OVERS JUST DON’T WORK!

My son, JD, was in full rage mode & nothing we could do was calming him down. We were desperate, and racing to the local hospital for help. In fact, he didn’t calm down until we actually pulled up to the hospital.

A few months ago, I read The Whole-Brain Child along with Lisa Qualls and a few of her readers of One Thankful Mom.

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One of the helpful strategies that I began using during one of JD’s meltdowns is:

Whole Brain Strategy #2: Name It to Tame It: Telling Stories to Calm Big Emotions.

Name It to Tame It helps children not be overwhelmed by their feelings. The authors note that we can: “name and tame the emotions we are experiencing, rather than be{ing} overwhelmed by them.”  This storytelling process can help a child make sense of their experiences.

One thing that we’ve noticed with JD’s rages is that they usually occur when he hasn’t eaten a good meal in a while.  During these rages, I’ve began repeating to him: “oh, you must be hungry…you get really grumpy when you’re hungry…what would you like to eat?”

By adding these narrative details while JD is raging, I’m hoping to help him make sense of what he’s experiencing with these BIG emotions and what he’s feeling in his body.  Then hopefully, one day, he will realize that he’s hungry and just say “I’m hungry!

That scary blow-up at church was so perplexing to us because he had eaten nearly two grilled cheese sandwiches before church!  That intense rage (the worst in over a year) frightened us more than ever about what could be going on inside our little boy’s brain.  I was in tears holding and praying over my son as we drove that ten minutes to the hospital.toddler-tantrum-foster-child-trauma-bonding-attachment

After that ordeal, when we finally made it home and walked in the door, what do you think Stinkpot said to me? Yes! That’s right!

I’M HUNGRY.

How do you help your child deal with BIG emotions?

You can read The Whole-Brain Child on your Kindle or listen through Audible (how I read it).