Yale Experts Think They’ve Found A Way To Manage Tantrums — Once And For All

By Catherine Pearson for huffpost.com

Tantrums and meltdowns are a normal part of growing up. Estimates suggest that up to 90% of toddlers have them, and researchers also have a pretty clear grip on why, like right down to the nitty-gritty neuroscience of it all. Essentially, the amygdala (the part of the brain that helps process emotions) detects a threat, and the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that controls involuntary reactions like heart rate and body temperature) just kind of … snaps.

But knowing that tantrums are common, and having an understanding of why, still doesn’t help all that much when you’re trying to console a toddler or preschooler who is howling and shaking with rage. Tantrums test us as parents, and that’s particularly true during a pandemic that has upended family rhythms and caused a lot of kids to regress.

Fortunately, a team of researchers with Yale University has released findings from a pilot study that could be something of a game-changer on the tantrum front, creating a virtual program that limited disruptive behaviors and reduced overall irritability in young kids who tend to really struggle with both.

Twelve families who participated in the study said they saw a significant drop in angry outbursts and tantrums and made major strides in being able to stay calm in the face of frustration, said Denis Sukhodolsky, an associate professor with the Yale Child Study Center. The children involved in the study all have either oppositional defiance disorder or disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Sukhodolsky said he believes the pilot program is promising in that it could potentially be rolled out for parents around the country to access without a referral to a trained clinician with a particular skillset that may be difficult to find.

The Yale study recognizes that tantrums are an “important standalone target for mental health,” Sukhodolsky said. And all parents can help their children manage tantrums, whether the outbursts rise to the level of a clinical problem or not, he added.

Read more here.

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