The idea that a child’s brain is irrevocably shaped in the first three years increasingly drives government policy on adoption and early childhood intervention. But does the science stand up to scrutiny?
“Neuroscience can now explain why early conditions are so crucial,” wrote Graham Allen and Iain Duncan Smith in their 2010 collaboration, Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens. “The more positive stimuli a baby is given, the more brain cells and synapses it will be able to develop.”
Neuroscience is huge in early years policy. This week, in what’s been characterised as the largest shake-up of family law in a generation, the 26-week time limit for adoption proceedings has come into force, much of it justified by the now-or-never urgency of this set of beliefs, that the first three years (or sometimes first 18 months) hardwire a baby’s brain, either give it or deny it the capacity for a full life. This is the engine of what is known as the First Three Years movement, which has transfixed politicians from across the spectrum. Allen and Duncan Smith’s report opened with an illustration of the “normal child’s” large brain and the shrivelled, walnut brain of the neglected child. With conferences such as Two Is Too Late (organised by Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom) and papers such as The 1,001 Critical Days, a set of claims are made that echo and reinforce those bold claims made by Allen: first, that we now have a set of scientific findings about the infant brain that can teach us new things about parenting. Second, that concrete events occur – from the production of synapses to the lighting up of areas of the brain on an MRI scanner – that can be interpreted in a straightforward way upon which all science is agreed. Third, with terms such as “critical periods” and “hardwiring”, the thesis is put forward that brains have a finite time window for learning certain things. Fourth, that we can distil the treatment of infants into a set of behaviours that will determine the networks in their brains, either equipping them to empathise, learn, engage and produce, or irreparably failing to equip them. The connections made are endless: babies who fail to make the right neural connections will do badly at school, lack empathy, succumb to criminality, have mental health problems, and end up in a cycle of deprivation themselves.
One of the main reasons that people are emotionally unhealthy is that they are living a life of codependency.
Parents can live co-dependently on their children, or the children can be codependent on their parents.
Codependency is a problem that continues to recur through the generations. Parents can start to help their children become emotionally healthy and live independently when they learn how to live their own lives separately from their children. Parents might even have to make a conscious effort to change these behaviors that might have been plaguing their own families for generations.
It can be hard to determine if there are codependency issues in your family.
Many times the problems are easy to deny and sometimes even more natural to hide.
Sometimes you might not even realize that you are codependent upon your children.
There are some signs of codependency that you can consider to determine if this is something that is a problem for you.
Questions to Ask Yourself to Find Out if You are Co-Dependent Upon Your Child
Do you find yourself overly focused on your child?
Do you suffer from low self-esteem?
Does your child suffer from low self-esteem?
Do you practice non-assertive communication?
Do you find yourself denying or devaluing your needs or the needs of yourself or your child?
Do you find yourself devaluing the wants or feelings of yourself or your child?
Do you have poor boundaries?
Do you feel that you need to control the things that your child says or does?
If you answered yes to more than one of these, the then chances are that you have at least some codependency issues with your child.
Your child is going to learn a lot about himself/herself and how to communicate things like their own needs by how they interact with you.
It is imperative to examine how you relate with your child to see if they can develop healthy emotions.
If you want your child to be an emotionally healthy adult, then you should make sure that the following are happening with them.
Is your child about to express free thoughts, observations, and feelings?
Do you try to maintain equality in your home and make it fair for everyone?
Are you able to have healthy communication with your child?
Do you have reasonable rules for your child based on their age and ability?
Are you supportive and nurturing of your child’s needs?
Do you have healthy boundaries with your child?
Are you able to problem solve with your child?
If you did not answer yes to at least three of these things, then you probably need to work on these so that your child can develop into a healthy and productive member of society as an adult.
There are some things that you can do as a parent so that you can help your child to become a healthy adult. The following are some of the critical things for you to think about.
You need to allow your child to have information without making that information dependent upon behavior or using it as a reward.
Make sure that they feel comfortable expressing how they feel and what is going on with them.
You must show your children respect.
If you do not respect your child, then it is going to be hard for them to learn how to respect you and your authority.
Make sure that your child knows that you understand that sometimes they are going to be angry or have expressions that might not be positive.
You can not fix feelings, but instead, you need to work with your child to resolve why they feel that way.
Talk to your child about the boundaries that they want to have. Make sure that you respect these boundaries.
Allow your child to be independent in ways that are age appropriate. You should also give your child some responsibility that is appropriate for their age and allow them to make some decisions.
You need to have reasonable rules and punishments that are humane. Most important here is that punishments do not embarrass your child or cause them mental duress.
Finally, you must nurture your child. You need to be attentive to their emotional and physical needs. Plus you have to make sure that you are not reserving your love based upon your child’s behavior.
Doing these things is going to help you to make sure that you have an emotionally well-developed child who is not codependent on you.
When I was a senior in college, studying Early Childhood Education, I was a little worried about getting a job, and wondered if I should get licensed to teach older grades as well.
But my adviser reassured me, she said: “Kathleen, any day now, there will be public early childhood programs everywhere.” 30 years later, only a fraction of the children who need high quality early childhood programs have access to them, which is why I’m here to talk to you today.
This is a story about the single most important construction a society ever undertakes. It is about what is required to build a physically, cognitively, socially, and emotionally healthy child. It is a process, is complex, is the most challenging feat of engineering and a process that is easily thwarted by poverty and stress.
Healthy children do not come pre-assembled; work is required.
This story begins with 100 North Carolina babies, and their amazing journey.
Their life trajectories were changed by a single intervention, high-quality educational child care.
They remained part of one of the largest studies of child development and one of the most famous, the Abecedarian project.
And it started right here, in this town, at this university, at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. Abecedarian means ones who are just learning, and our abecedarians have been followed since the 1970s.
Let me tell you how this worked.
Children and families from Chapel Hill area, all of whom lived in poverty, were assigned to one of two experimental groups.
Both groups received basic supports such as diapers and formula, but only one of the groups, the Abecedarian group, received full day, year round; intensive child care.
The researchers developed an innovative program.
They developed a program that focused on playful activities that emphasized one-on-one intensive language interactions between teachers and children.
The researchers, based on what we knew at the time, thought that they would see results quite quickly, and started assessing the children almost immediately, but it was over a year before they saw any results; at 15 months, there were slight differences between the Abecedarian childcare children and their none participating peers.
But the amazing thing is what happened from the long-term results.
First, there were some real disadvantages for children who did not participate in the Abecedarian childcare [program]. By four years old, they saw declines in their IQ, and in school, they were more likely to be placed in special education.
On the other hand, individuals who received the Abedecedarian childcare outperformed their non-participating peers on assessments of Math, Reading and intellectual measures through high school and into early adulthood. Abecedarian participants were less likely to become teen parents. By 21 years of age, only 40% of the none participants have or enrolled in college or employed in skilled labor, compared to 70% of the Abecedarian children.
Keep in mind, this is 16 years after participating in high-quality early childhood education. They were less likely to become depressed as adults.
By 30 years of age, they were more likely to have a job and a college degree, but the most impressive findings are the most recent: Abecedarian childcare participants in their mid-30’s showed better physical health than their none participating peers.
Let me give you and example.
Among the males who did not participate in the Abecedarian childcare, 25% developed metabolic disorder.
This is a serious medical condition consisting of hypertension and obesity.
Guess how many of the Abecedarian males developed metabolic disorder? 25%, 10%, 5%?
Not one of the Abecedarian males developed metabolic disorder in their mid-30’s. High-quality childcare received before five years old is associated with better heart health in mid-adulthood.
Think about that for a moment.
What made a difference for the Abecedarian children?
How and why does high-quality early care in education have such a powerful and lasting impact?
What is required for the assembly of a healthy child, who then becomes a healthy adult?
Research as the FPG and elsewhere have been studying these questions for decades and identifying exactly what is needed for early care in education and the Abecedarian project provided a lot of that guidance.
For example, we know the children need healthy environments. the Abecedarians project lent years of studies that examined specifically what constituted healthy environments for young children, tools were developed in FPG that are used around the world to evaluate and improve the quality of early childhood programs.
But here is the thing: most children who live in poverty don’t have access to those high quality early childhood programs.
A great lesson from the Abecedarian program is the importance of intensive, frequent, one-on-one language interactions between adults and children.
Later research shows that by the time children are four years old, children who live in poverty hear 30 million fewer words than children who live in economically privilege homes, 30 million fewer words.
We continue to work, to try to help early childhood teachers enhance the quality of language development for young children.
Finally, we’ve established that the glue that holds this assembly together is the warm, trusting relationships forged by the adults in children’s lives.
The Abecedarian children had access to these one-on-one interactions with teachers, and we know from subsequent research that when children have caring and trusting relationships with teachers in early childhood, they do better academically and socially throughout the school years.
Healthy environments, language interactions, warm relationships, all rely on the skills of educated, healthy teachers.
So who are these early childhood teachers? And what do we know about them? Let’s take the example of Head Start teachers.
Head Start, you may know, is a federal funded program, designed to educate some children who live in poverty.
According to a recent report on the early childhood workforce, Head Start teachers increased their education, consistently since 2007, while realizing a decline in wages in real dollars.
Furthermore, we know from research that Head Start teachers report poor health outcomes than the general population, and they have very high stress in their jobs working with children and families; and we know that when teacher’s stress increases the quality of their relationships with children declines.
We are working very hard to identify ways to support teachers’ well being so that they can support young children. High quality environments, language interactions, healthy relationships delivered by teachers who are educated, healthy, and well compensated.
Sounds expensive, right? It is.
But the Abecedarian study and other studies have found that there is a financial return on investment. According to Nobel Prize winner economist, James Hackman, participants in the Abecedarian study saved the societal support system as much as seven dollars for every dollar spent.
And further evidence from economic researchers shows that investment in high quality early childhood programs, benefits not only children and families but entire communities, and could be the single intervention that thwarts the inter-generational cycle of poverty.
Do you want to live in economically stable communities with low rates of poverty and crime?
Invest in high quality early childhood programs.
Do you want to spend less on public health problems like obesity and heart disease?
Invest in high quality early childhood programs.
Do you want your children to benefit from schools where all children are healthy and prepared to learn?
Invest in high quality early childhood programs.
These days, my office is to next to that of Francis Campbell, one of the original investigators on the Abecedarian study.
But 30 years after my adviser reassured me, children who live in poverty still do not have access to sufficient high quality early childhood programs.
Our investment in human capital is the single most pressing issue we face today; and if healthier and more productive lives aren’t sufficient, we have a financial bottom line that shows we must invest early.
We can sometimes be very humble about our ability to find out what might be useful for others or ourselves, Forget that it may be possible to guess some generalizations about what constitutes Childhood emotionally healthy. It can not be the absolute privacy or good luck. There Themes and objectives of the characteristic can be identified. Map with optimal development in mind, we can appreciate more clearly where to start disintegrating, what we should be grateful to him Allam and regret. At the collective level, we will have more sense of what we need To achieve to generate more distinctive emotionally – and thus the world Wiser Kulaila-. In the context of a healthy childhood emotionally, we can expect some of the following: – someone will put himself sincerely in our service.
If we have adults Mental health standards, it is almost sure that when we were young and helpless infants There was someone (we owe him our lives) to pay its own needs Aside to focus on our needs we are entire. We explained what we could not Say, guess what can be Atabna, Hdoona and Oasuna. Kept Chaos and Aldaudhaebaida and cut the world into pieces we can control. They did All this, and at the same time, did not ask us to thank them, understand them or show them compassion. They did not ask us to wonder how their day was or how they sleep at night. (It was not much). They treated us like kings, so that we may later be able to Delivery of cruelty and humiliation in ordinary life. This temporary unilateral relationship Ensure that we have the ability eventually to form a bilateral relationship. You may think People egoists as sick people constant attention. But the opposite is somewhat True; Selfish is someone who did not get enough love.
On pivoting about self To have a substantial share in the early years, so as not to chase and destroy the last. The so-called narcissistic is just the spirit outcast did not have a chance to enjoy Admired excessive and unreasonable at first. – In emotionally healthy childhood, someone It is always to give the best possible explanation for our behavior. We carry on Seventy loaded with goodness. Based on what may be the days are Tqina, not build on it is us right Now.
Someone Atif.aly For example, a judge might say harsh us that we are “looking for attention.” Of Eraana imagined that what we need is more lap and some encouraging words. We may be acted disturbingly. Of Eraana adds that we must be at the level of what we feel Threat. We seem as if we neglected; remember that the care provider That much of it may be related to fatigue. Shepherd is looking down under The surface for more sympathetic interpretations to help us to be along Ourselves, to love ourselves – and therefore ultimately not be too defensive about Own shortcomings, which we grow enough to accept their existence. – In good childhood, Our relationship with the Eraana constant, consistent and long-term. We are confident that Tomorrow there will be the next day. It is not volatile or fragile. He Almost dull, predictable and happy that is taken for granted.
As a result, we develop Confidence in the relationships that arise in our lives. We can believe that what It got a good time can go well again and allow such a prediction that governs our choice for our partner’s Partners. Not Nguettn persons distant and non-reliable; do not still enjoy Punishment. We can choose partners and attentive Alemraaan – not Judge them that they are weak or deficient because they are as well. If you hit trouble with our partners Allatifin, the lack of patience Anfzaa or move away to avoid them. We can try with confidence Reform of the love that we know we deserve. – In emotionally healthy upbringing, not We wanted us to be always girls and boys the good Alkamilon. We are not allowed to get angry and we sometimes In them are disgusting, to say that in some situations, “no” and “because we feel it.” Adults know their flaws do not expect a child to be the best of them. We are not obliged to give at every turn to be we accept. We can allow others to see Dark aspects of us.
This stage of freedom Thaina to give one day to the requirements of society Without the need to rebel defensive ways (the fact that the rebels in the rear, are people They had to obey a lot early). We can work hard when it is in our interest In the long term to do so. But at the same time, we are not cowards or obedient without discrimination We can find a middle point between the slave compliance on the one hand and self-destruction Challenging the other. – In an emotionally healthy home, we care provider is not jealous of us Or competing with us. It can be allowed to be exceeded or superiority to it. He has got On Hzth in the spotlight – or get them somewhere else outside the family They can be proud of the achievements of their children are not competitors (who are usually of the same sex) They do not need because of the axis.
Good Shepherd is not ambitious too much On behalf of the child. She wants him to Webley well, but for him is his way. Special provision on the child does not have to be followed by got love: not required The strengthening of the child shepherd strained the confidence of his own, or polishing his image in the eyes of the world. – In emotionally sound education, the child learns that the things that break It can be repaired. You may deviate plans, but it is possible to develop new ideas. It can fall and then shake off Dust yourself. Shepherd shows the child how to calm down, and remains optimistic. Sound flex, in an external origin, it becomes the way in which the child learns to happen Himself.
There are alternatives to panic; the ship will overcome the storm and back To the harbor. It is safe to go outside and explore. There is no risk of all turn. We can go out in a short exploratory trip at the beginning, and then we return to ensure – just to get out The second expedition longer. We can risk. – It is vital That many errors occur in health childhood emotionally. No one has devoted his reputation for providing Everything is complete. Care provider does not see that his duty to remove all the frustration. He knows that a lot of good comes from getting the appropriate amount of disagreement – which develops the child through its sources and uniqueness of confrontation With potential disappointments, the child is urged to form your inner world Which can dream it, be new plans, he calms himself and builds its sources. – the right care provider is not – as the child can never Ary- good or absolute evil, So it is not worthy of worship or contempt.
The child accepts errors And the virtues of the care provider maturely sad and Amtnan- and therefore, It is ready to accept that everyone will be a mixture of positive and negative. An adult will not fall deeply in love to get angry at the first moment Letdown. It has a sense of realism about what to expect from life with another good enough Despite all the progress we have made in the field of technology and material resources, In the art of providing a healthy childhood emotionally we are not much more advanced than Previous generations.
Some collapses, non-life honest, broken souls does not appear Noticeable signs of decline. We fail to provide childhood cannot afford Because we are evil or indifferent but because we still have a long way to know How do we do what seems simple but more complex: love things. Dark facts may not be in our book “things children should never tell” suitable for children but can offer solace and humor and relief for the elderly among us.
No matter how hard parents may try to offer a patient, caring attitude when handling toddler behavior, some children are more prone to acting out.
Temper tantrums are a staple of toddler hood and more often than not, they escalate into full-blown meltdowns.
Fortunately, there are many ways to not only avoid tantrums, but to deal with them effectively.
Knowing a few tried-and-true methods will help both parents and kids adjust accordingly when a meltdown is near.
The first step in understanding temper tantrums is why they occur in the first place.
Tantrums are common in both boys and girls between the ages of 1 and 3.
Although frustrating, meltdowns are a normal part of development.
They serve as a way of venting anger, especially since toddlers have little control over their actions and feelings.
The added difficulty of not being able to communicate makes toddlers more tantrum-prone.
Furthermore, toddlers are challenging the world around them and pushing their independence.
This creates power struggles between children and adults; another element that leads to meltdowns.
It can be difficult for toddlers to recognize that they can’t have everything their way.
Of course, it’s not realistic to give in to a child’s every desire.
Anticipate tantrums by looking for the warning signs such as whimpering, whining or tension.
When these behaviors begin to surface, take action by distracting and redirecting the toddler.
For example, if the child becomes frustrated when building with blocks, distract him or her by pointing out a new activity.
Instead of building a tower let’s say, offer to paint with the toddler.
Although these tactics don’t always offer an immediate solution, they are worth a try.
Another effective method for avoiding the onset of a tantrum is to identify with the child’s feelings.
When a toddler feels understood, he or she is less likely to act out.
Use simple words and express how the child may be feeling.
Try something like, “I see that you are mad that your block tower fell down.
Let’s try to build one together.”
Also use a calming, matter-of-fact tone that will reassure the toddler.
Sometimes, tantrums are imminent no matter how hard an adult may try.
To make matters worse, they often occur in situations where the child is over-stimulated, tired or hungry.
The first defense is to ignore the behavior. This means no eye contact, no words and no reactions.
Make sure that the child is in a safe area and if not, move him or her to an area that is, with no sharp objects or glass.
If out in public, remove the child from the situation and show that the behavior will not be tolerated.
When the toddler sees that his or her outbursts aren’t getting attention, they will soon stop or decrease.
Be sure to remain calm during the tantrum, as yelling or screaming only worsens the behavior.
Once children expand their language skills, generally around the age of 3, tantrums become a thing of the past.
Tips To Dealing With Kids’ Tantrums
Being a parent, there are several things that you will experience as you deal with growing kids.
Among the many things that you will need to deal with a growing a child are tantrums.
When your kids reach the toddler stage, throwing tantrums are only natural for them.
Although it can be annoying, there are ways in which you can deal with it to ease the stress.
As your toddler start to throw a tantrum, you may have sudden impulses on how to handle the situation.
However, most of these impulses will not yield positive results.
Here are seven ways on how to deal with tantrums from your kids:
Keep your cool at all times. Even if you’re about to explode, always keep your cool in front of your kid.
This is all a part of your child growing up experience, and is only natural.
Try to be patient, disciplined and practice self restraint.
You want to teach these positive values to your kid. If you react with anger to your kid while they’re having a tantrum, you’re only teaching them violence.
They will see violence as the right way to handle problems or other issues.
Never give in to their request.
Toddlers often throw tempertantrums when they want something, but couldn’t have it.
If you give in to their request or try to bribe them to calm down by giving what they want, you are opening the possibility of your toddler throwing more tantrums in the future.
Never give in to what they want and show them that they will not get it if they act this way.
Ignore public opinions. What if your child throws a tantrum while you’re in the mall because you won’t buy them that toy?
If this happens, most parents concern themselves about what others people may think and will try to give in to calm the child down.
However, if you really want to be a responsible parent, ignore what other people may think, most parents who have undergone the same situation will even show sympathy to your cause.
Avoid reasoning with them.
Toddlers throw tantrums in order to get your attention. When this happens, don’t try to negotiate or reason with your kid.
They won’t listen to you anyway, so it is best just to ignore the tantrums.
This will show your kids that throwing a tantrum is not the way that you communicate with another person.
Let them play it out. When you’re angry, you have a lot of steam built up inside that you will need to let out.
The same goes for your kids, if they have a tantrum, they need to have an outlet to express what they feel. Let them scream, yell and cry in another room.
However, explain to them why you are putting them in another room and that you will not support their behavior.
Let them play out what they feel in another room and leave them. Only return after the screaming, yelling and the crying have completely ceased.
Give them a hug.
Hugs can be a reassuring gesture which also shows love and comfort.
When your kids are throwing a tantrum and you want to keep them from getting hurt, give them a firm yet gentle hug.
Although kids would not want to be held down when they’re having tantrums, hugging your kid will eventually calm them down. It can assure them that you care and that you love them.
Never compromise even after the tantrum has ceased.
After the tantrum stops, don’t give them what they wanted.
Instead give them an alternative to what they wanted.
If you reward them after they have stopped with the thing they wanted, this can create confusion in your kid.
They may think that they can still get what they want, even if took longer.
Now there’s a number of reasons children have temper tantrums:
First, they’re very developmentally normal for children up to three years of age.
And young children at that time, they’re going to have a temper tantrum from an urgent need that is not met or when they’re tired, hungry bored, or frustrated.
Older children over the age of three have temper tantrums for different reasons.
Generally they have them because they have been given into, they’ve had a tantrum earlier in their life and it’s worked for them so they continued that skill as a strategy of getting their way.
They have one for unrealistic expectations of parents, inappropriate discipline that’s a little bit too punitive or too permissive and also when they are fatigued they will do that, and the last one is when they’ve had too much stress in their life.
Those of you who have had children, maybe one or more children, you might say,
“Well how come one child has more temper tantrums than another?”
Well this is based on a number of things:
First, it is based on the temperament of the child. Some kids are just born easy temperament, they’re easy to regulate, they go to sleep well, they eat well, they’re just very easy children.
Other children are born with a very difficult temperament, it’s hard to soothe them, they’re finicky eaters, they’re finicky sleepers, when they get upset they can’t calm as easily as other children, and the last one again a stressors. Inconsistent routines, inappropriate discipline, unrealistic expectations, divorce, child-care, death in the family, depression.
All these things will affect the amount, number and intensity of tantrums that children will have. So how best can we respond to temper tantrums? The first thing I want you to hear and I want you to hear it very, very clearly is there’s no right way to do it.
Different things will be appropriate for different children.
But in general, these are some strategies that will be helpful:
The first thing to understand is temper tantrums are a non-verbal communication.
We all recognize them.
The face is red, they’re wailing, the arms are going, they’re holding their breath, they’re screaming.
We recognize a temper tantrum.
So what are they trying to say?
Generally they’re going to say “I’m overwhelmed.
I can’t handle this.”
The second one is “I’m trying a strategy that worked last time and I’m wondering if it’s gonna work this time ’cause you gave in last time so all I got to do is scream and shout, long enough, hard enough, and ultimately I’m going to get what I want.”
So one its developmental I’m overwhelmed, and two you’ve taught the child to have these tantrums.
So we respond to these almost in similar ways:
The first thing to do is to unhook ourselves.
So again we’re going to be a S.T.A.R., we’re not going to get triggered, we’re going to take a deep breath and we’re going to calm ourselves.
Sometimes just calming ourselves puts some calming energy around the child.
The second thing we’re going to do is it we’re going to offer empathy and we’re going to start with the body.
Your arms are going like this, your face is like this, your body’s telling me I feel so frustrated.
So I’m going to say those words again so you can get them:
Your arms are going like this, your face is all scrunched up, your body is telling me I really wanted to watch this or I am so tired, whatever your best guess is.
And from that situation then, you’re going to actually just leave the child alone if that seems what would be best for them or you going to pick the child up, put them to your body and say nothing but breathe at first and then you’re going to say
“You’re safe, you can handle this, I’ve got you.
You’re safe, you can handle this, I’ve got you.” Once the temper tantrum is over, whatever the original trigger was, the child does not get out of anything.
If they threw a fit about taking their fork to the sink, once the temper tantrum is over, give them a choice, “You can carry the fork over in this hand or you can carry the fork in this hand to the sink.
Which is best with you?”
If it was about wearing blue pants as opposed to green pants, once it’s over there gonna put the green pants on, just give them a choice,
“Do you want to put them on when sitting on the floor, or would it be easier to stand up and put your pants on?”
The temper tantrum does not allow a child to get out doing something.
So why not just let the child flop around on the floor like a fish outta water and ignore quote the bad behavior?
We want to offer empathy, we want to offer breathing because it’s gonna help the child learn how to get from the lower centers of their brain to the higher centers of their brain and we’re providing that methodology, and internalize it in the child that they can use the rest of their life.
So here’s your homework:
When you see a child in a grocery store and it’s not even yours, here’s what you can practice, just breathe and wish that child well in that family.
Put some calmness into the energy as opposed to “What the heck are they doing?” Add your calmness to the situation.
If it’s your own child, unhook, do not take it personally, take some breath add some calmness to the chaos with your own energetic being.
Say to the child, “Oh, your hands, your feet are going like this, your face looks like this, your body’s telling me this was just, I’m just so tired and so hungry.”
And then depending on the temperament of the child you’re either going to leave them alone, give them some space, or you’re going to scoop them up and put them on your chest, relax and say,
“You’re safe, you’re safe, I’ve got you, you can handle this.”
And then once the temper tantrum is over they’re gonna go back and complete the task that triggered them to begin with.