There is a secret to taming a temper that world-wide traffic controllers are already aware of. See, the use the same device/concept to ‘tame’ their traffic issues: traffic circles. No, I haven’t lost my mind. Seriously, the concept of a traffic circle runs parallel to what often can be a very effective tool for helping to ease a temper tantrum.
Y’all are familiar with the concept of traffic circles, right? These are used around the world as a way to help with traffic moving through intersections. The way it works is first you see the oncoming traffic circle, and as you move into it, you must first yield to the traffic already in the circle, merging into the traffic as is it is safe to do so, and then you signal to depart the circle as you need, taking care to yield to traffic as is necessary. (I could probably throw in some more technical terms, but you get the idea). Many states, Maryland especially, have embraced the idea, most notably due to the fact that these circles work effectively and result in fewer traffic accidents. Awesome, right?
So how could this possibly apply to a temper tantrum? Remember we are speaking metaphorically here. Think of the tantrum as the circle. Your kid is in there, going around and around, screaming and yelling, and he’s stuck. He can’t figure out which exit is his, and he’s getting more and more irritated and worked up by the minute. You need to enter the circle carefully, yielding to his ‘traffic’ and slowly merge into the flow. By this I mean, understand the tantrum, and watch where it might have come from and where it might be aiming. Understanding the general flow of ‘normal’ traffic can be helpful. (What normally sets off your child? What normally helps to pacify him?) As you flow with the ‘traffic’, empathizing with the situation can be helpful. (Letting your child know you understand he’s mad and agreeing that yes, XXX can be really frustrating.) And then easing out of the traffic as it is safe to do so. You’ve done your part. Now it’s time for the traffic to flow on it’s own. A temper tantrum can very often just be frustration at not being heard or understood. Letting your kid know that you get it, you understand he’s mad and agree that it isn’t fair. Then it’s up to him to calm down, and get over it. That’s his job. He is, after all, one of the key drivers in this situation. As he finally exits the circle/tantrum on his own, he can be aware of others drivers, his impact on them, and theirs on him, and … life/traffic returns to normal.
Ok, perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but I like it. Now, anyone who has attempted to transverse Dupont Circle knows that while the system generally works, it can also result in utter chaos. So, as in all parenting rules, exceptions apply. But really, here is where defensive driving skills really can help you in real life.
There you go. My two cents worth for the day.