Healthy children have tantrums when they are overwhelmed by strong feelings, and so do children with leukemia. In some cases, tantrums can be predicted by parents paying close attention to what triggers the outburst. This knowledge helps parents prevent tantrums by avoiding situations that create overload for their child. In other cases, there is no warning of the impending tantrum.
We never knew what would set off 3-year-old Rachel, and to tell the truth, she didn't know what the problem was herself. She was very verbal and aware in many ways, but she had no idea what was bothering her and causing the anger I would just hold her with her blanket, hug her, and rock until she calmed down. Later she would say, "I was out of control," but she still didn't know why
Of course, if the child is destructive, he needs help learning other ways to vent his anger. For a child who is frequently destructive, professional counseling is necessary. The Misunderstood Child by Larry Silver has a chapter that explains in detail how parents can initiate a behavior modification program at home.
My son had frequent, violent rages that sometimes caused damage (toys thrown at the walls, books ripped up). He was small, but strong. I talked to him when he was calm about how the tantrums would be handled. Tantrums with no damage would be ignored; afterwards we would cuddle and talk about what prompted the anger and other ways for him to handle the anger. If he began to break things or hurt people, I would wrap him in a blanket and rock him until he relaxed. I would tell him, "I need to hold you because you are out of control. Soon you will learn how to control yourself." All of the tantrums ended after he went off treatment, but dealing with his destructive anger was one of the hardest things that I have ever experienced.
When my own son needed to get out a good old temper tantrum just to unload, I'd let him. Then he'd fall into my reassuring arms and soak up some good ole momma lovin' and just whimper till he slept...my hand stroking his hair, and I'm whispering things like, "I know, honey, I know. It's just so wrong. I'm here, baby I love you. I know. I know. Just sleep for now. I'll be here when you wake. I'm not moving. I'm not going anywhere. I love you. There now."
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