Using Massage to Set Boundaries and Handle Tantrums on Toddlers
By Susan Knowlton
Toddlers are struggling to reconcile their autonomy with parental control. On this age group, children try to assert their autonomy by saying no. In fact, toddlers can say no to virtually anything. One moment they refuse to eat a bowl of cereal, but a few minutes later they turn around to demand the same bowl after you have thrown away its content.
Parents and caregiver should set boundaries and limits for toddlers. You may doubt this, but a little frustration is healthy for your children. They should know things that they can’t get and know their limits. Even so, you should respect your children’s opinions, if they say no, listen and respond to your children’s words. It will show them that they have control on their lives. By choosing battles wisely, you can avoid unnecessary power struggles. For example, they may want to wear winter hat on the beach, just let them. However, if they insists on playing near a busy street, that’s certainly non-negotiable.
Oftentimes, toddlers refuse a massage. When it happens, respect their wish as it sends a clear message that their body is completely theirs and others will respect it. Obviously, you should respond properly when they wants a massage. You may be busy at certain times, but if you can establish a predictable schedule, both of you will feel more comfortable. Accommodating your children’s needs show them that you’re being helpful in guiding them toward independence and self-reliance. Remember that childhood needs that are properly met will go away, while those that can’t be met will be carried well into adulthood.
Setting and Respecting Boundaries
Boundaries separate people; they define expectations and simplify life. Well-established boundaries can help toddlers to feels safe and know about limits in life. These are common boundaries in the family:
• Knocking before entering a bedroom
• Asking permission before playing on the lawn
• Prohibition on hitting and other violent physical contacts
• Don’t play with Mom’s cooking utensils
• Wear proper clothing when playing outside during cold days
• Hold Mom’s hand when crossing the street
Boundaries can only be effective if parents can become a reliable role model and behave properly, as the result toddlers can grow into a young child with good attitude and healthy relationships with other family members and friends.
These are a few things you should consider when attempting to establish boundaries:
Be consistent. Children, especially toddlers will be confused when they face changing limits and rules.
Adjust yourself to your children’s development. You should make sure that they are physically and emotionally capable of obeying boundaries.
Boundaries is not only about controlling your child, they help to teach self-discipline and keeping them safe.
Massaging can also help to set boundaries. You should ask for their permission before giving them a massage. You can also teach your children to massage each other and make it into something exciting. Observe your children’s continuously, if they feel uncomfortable, you should take it easy and if they look bored, talk to them. Each child has unique preference, some love to have their legs massaged, while others want to have their backs rubbed.
Teaching Discipline Through Massage
If you want your child to be receptive to gentle discipline, massages can give you a good opportunity of establishing that kind of relationship. These are a few things to consider if you want your child to respond favorably to your loving guidance:
• Build trust.
• Set consistent and clear boundaries.
• Teach your child to communicate properly.
• Let your child know that you’re being sensitive to their needs.
Discipline is all about teaching to your child to stay within boundaries. Massage is a good way to teach about discipline, because your child will become familiar to trust, boundaries and nonverbal communication. In fact, infants can pick up lessons about boundaries and discipline through massage. By offering massage regularly, parents can become sensitive caretakers who are perfectly attuned to their child’s needs, which will nurture a relationship based on trust. Children who get proper responses to their needs with sensitivity and compassion will grow up with feeling of respect and they can rely on your positive authority.
Of course, you shouldn’t be a pushover, but when asserting your positive authority, you should be firm without being overbearing or controlling. By expressing positive authority properly, you can strengthen mutual respect and trust with your children in a cooperative and non-adversarial way. As you become more aware of their changing needs, sensitive and attuned, your relationship will evolve and grow as they do.
Understanding why tantrum occurs is the first step in controlling it. Toddlers tend to have temper tantrums each time they’re overwhelmed with feelings they can’t or don’t know how to handle. Common triggers are anger, frustration, hunger and fatigue. Often temper tantrum occur in public places and it can be difficult to figure out to best handle the situation with everyone is watching. Temper tantrums are very frustrating for both of you.
After they are calm you have to talk about what had happened, by giving them a massage, it will remind them that they do have the skills to calm themselves down.
These are things to remember when temper tantrum strikes:
• Try to remain calm and objective
• Hold your child so they won’t get hurt
• If possible, bring them to a quieter place
It is important to be properly responsive to a child who is experiencing a tantrum. Many times, tantrum happens when the child can’t handle intense emotions, so the best thing you can do is to stay with them and remain loving. There is no fixed rule for this, because each child is unique, so do the relationship between child and parent. You should be intuitive, use soothing words but try to remain firm if necessary. Many parents reported that talking to their children after a tantrum episode, while giving a massage can help immensely. It can help your child to express their opinion, while at the same time, your child will become more receptive to your advices.