If you do not see the Temper Tantrum video on your screen, click here.
"The trick is to get the child past the peaks of anger. Once you do that, what's left is the sadness, and sad children reach out for comfort.
The quickest way past the anger--is to do nothing.
Don't shout, don't hit, don't try to comfort the child. But, when a child is screaming it's hard to do nothing.
[W}hen children are at the peak of anger and they're screaming and they're kicking, probably asking questions might prolong that period of anger.
When I'm advising people about anger I say, 'There's an anger trap. Even asking questions can prolong the anger--and the tantrum.'
It's difficult for them to process information--they're overwhelmed. And to respond to a question that the parent is asking them may be just adding more information into the system than they can really cope with.
It's better to keep things simple. Issue short commands like, sit down, go to your room.
Understanding that tantrums have a rhythm can not only help parents know when to intervene, but also give them a sense of control."
-Psychologists Michael Potegal & James Green, "Screaming, yelling, whining, and crying: categorical and intensity differences in vocal expressions of anger and sadness in children's tantrums," Emotion 2011 Oct;11(5):1124-33-
If you received this post via email, click here to get to the web version with the links & the temper tantrum video!
Anyone Can Have a Temper Tantrum
OK--so, you don't have kids, or your kids are all grown. You have zero interest in tantrums. Why read this post?
Because---the advice you'll find here can apply to your boss, your spouse, or your friends. Anyone who's overwrought, frustrated, tired, hungry, angry and needs to vent! Sure, with adults there's no kicking or screaming--but sometimes it's not a far stretch to substitute the word "venting"--for a "tantrum".
Toddler Tantrums Deconstructed
Would I be so ga-ga about research on tantrums if I weren't a grandparent--and dealt with a few toddler melt-downs myself? Probably not!
But, you don't have to be a parent or a grandparent to experience the "horror show" of a full-blown temper tantrum. Think grocery store lines, airplanes, or restaurants.
It's happened to all of us--and it can make us feel as helpless as the screaming & kicking child who's having the tantrum. And by the way--all kids have tantrums.
"Small kids just have tantrums. Some have lots of them. Tantrums may be traumatic for parents, but they're mostly normal behavior. So science hasn't paid much attention to them--until now." (NPR)
But, if psychologists Potegal & Green are right--and I sure hope they are--there's both parental power & a sense of control when you know that all tantrums follow the same pattern--and if you know exactly when to ignore them, and when to intervene--a tanturm becomes easier to endure.
"[W]hen looked at scientifically, tantrums are no different than thunderstorms or other natural phenomena. Studying them as scientific subjects, rather than experiencing them like parents can cause the tantrums to stop feeling traumatic and even become interesting." (NPR) Really????
My Temper Tantrum "Ah Ha" Moment!
When I heard the NPR story yesterday morning I had an AH HA moment!
Isn't a toddler's temper tantrum something we can all relate to?
When we're REALLY REALLY UPSET or REALLY REALLY ANGRY (of course, I never am) we just want to have our say--and have someone listen to it--and not interrupt us.
- We don't want anyone to shut us up.
- We don't want any sympathetic coddling.
- We don't want to hear anyone's advice or solution to our problem.
- We don't want to hear logic.
- We don't want to be comforted.
- We just want to be heard, to vent, & release anger & frustration
- Only when we get our proper say, are we ready for hugs, comfort, & to listen to reason.
BTW--it only took me about 30 years of marriage to learn to just close my mouth & listen when my husband was having the equivalent of a grown-up's temper tantrum. Plenty of time to talk & comfort after he's had a chance to vent!
Thanks to Michael Potegal of the University of Minnesota, & James Green of the University of Connecticut, who studied & recorded over one hundred temper tantrums--there just may be an easy technique for dealing with the terrible two's & meltdowns.
How crazy is this? Potegal & Green devised a onesie with a wireless microphone. Then they convinced parents to put the onesie on their kids--& hit the GO button, so they could record all that tantrum screaming, crying, wailing, & whining.
Potegal & Green say most temper tantrums follow the same pattern--the build up is quite quick--to a peak of anger--but then the child exhausts himself & what's left is a child who wants to be comforted.
The Play-By-Play Analysis of a Tantrum
NPR: (commenting on the video) It looks like the tantrum is escalating. But, in fact, what the new theory suggests is exactly the opposite.
Green: (speaking about the child in the video) Once she's thrown herself on the floor and thrown something, or in this case, knocked the chair against the wall, we're probably on the down slope of this tantrum. She's spent a lot of energy; screaming, yelling and now doing these physical behaviors.
NPR: The scream was a peak. No one can stay that angry for long - it's exhausting. I asked Green what sounds he expected next from Katrina (the child in the video).
Green: Probably something...like crying or whining. There's been so much energy expended. The child knows that they've been out of control. That leads to a sense that they'd like some comfort from their parents.
NPR: This tantrum from scream to whimper took only a minute. But, Green & Potegal argue that no matter how long tantrums last or how often they occur, they follow the same pattern.
The Three Phases of a Tantrum
Phase I: Yelling & screaming. Associated with a high degree of anger. That's how tantrums start, especially if there's a goal the parent has in mind that's different from what the child has in mind.
Phase: 2: Physical actions. Throwing oneself on the floor or throwing something. This signals the downslope of the tantrum. The child has spent a lot of energy, screaming, yelling & physical behaviors.
Phase 3: Crying & whining. This signals the end of the tantrum--what we see after intense physical behaviors. And it can sometimes take only a minute to go from screaming to a whimper. Only now is the child ready to be comforted--and she's ready to listen to mom or dad.
But, no matter how long it takes, from start to finish, all tantrums follow the same pattern!
1. Read the NPR "What's Behind a Temper Tantrum transcript here.
3. Access Potegal's & Green's article in Emotion here.
Look Right Here for BPA-Free Cans or Containers
The Go-To Safe Brands: Eden Beans, Muir Glen Canned Tomatoes (started in January 2011), & Foods Packaged in Tetra-Paks or Glass
Just the facts, folks.
BPA is bad news. I'm not going to get into all the nasty details of how this endocrine disruptor can be damaging to pregnant women, fetuses, babies, & children--or how, as a hormone disruptor it's been linked to breast & prostate cancers, attention-deficit disorder, behavioral problems, & even diabetes.
That's all old news.
But, here's the new deal, you might have missed. BPA isn't just in plastic bottles--it's also in the linings of many cans--to prevent corrosion. In fact, until recently, it was found in the linings of practically all canned tomato products. That's now changed, because Muir Glen Organics recently started using BPA-free cans for its tomatoes. Learn more below.
Here's what my friend Fran recently sent me from 7 Foods Experts Won't Eat (and just so you know--Dr. Fredrick vom Saal is THE BPA expert in the US).
Why You Should Avoid Canned Tomatoes (until recently, that is!!)
The Situation: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Unfortunately, acidity (a prominent characteristic of tomatoes) causes BPA to leach into your food. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s body exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals.
“You can get 50 mcg of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”
The Solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi. (and Muir Glen tomatoes canned after 1/11)
Muir Glen Canned Tomatoes
Last Friday afternoon I waited on the phone for 45 minutes in order to talk to a Muir Glen customer service rep to find out if Muir Glen tomatoes are really BPA-Free.
To date, there is nothing on their label to indicate that they are BPA-free. So I wanted to hear it from a company representative.
Here's the scoop:
- All Muir Glen tomatoes packaged since January 2011 are now in BPA-free cans.
- The company won't put the BPA-free labels on their cans until all the old stock is off the shelf.
- So, how will we know if our cans are BPA-free, until the new labeling goes into effect?
1. The lining will be orange, not white.
2. The expiration date will have a 2014 on it. But..most of my cans have an expiration date of Mar. 2013, & they've all been orange on the inside--which means they're BPA-Free. The 2014 date will give you 100% assurance that the can is BPA-free--but there are 2013 expiration-dated cans that are also BPA-free.
3. Here's another clue. If the can has a white-enameled lining with BPA, it will say so on the label, right near the nutrition facts. Something like: contains enameled lining.
Eden Brand Beans
All Eden Brand Beans come in BPA-free cans. Learn more about that here.
Tetra-Paks or Glass
All food packaged in glass containers or in Tetra-Paks do not have BPA. Some researchers have concerns about the linings of Tetra paks--but, I haven't seen any research on that subject.
The BPA Health Risk Cliff Notes
The Consumer Reports Tested BPA Levels in Canned Food. It's Time to Ditch the Cans and the Thanksgiving Green Bean Casserole. Safe Levels Are Much Lower Than the FDA Allows
ADD, Autism, Hyperactivity, Behavioral Problems? Could BPA or Phthalates in Cans, Plastics, Carpets & PJs Be Responsible?
Here's the new research from JAMA, November 23, 2011
On November 23, 2011, right before Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans were going to open up cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup, green beans, Durkee's Onion Rings, pumpkin pie filling, & cranberry sauce---one of the top-dog medical journals, JAMA, busted canned soup for it's sky-high BPA levels. You can read a snippet of the article here.
But, hey, if you had read my Consumer Reports post on canned foods, none of this would have been a big surprise.
Source: Carwile JL, Ye X, Zhou X, Calafat AM, Michels KB, "Canned soup consumption and urinary bisphenol A: a randomized crossover trial," JAMA 2011 Nov 23;306(20):2218-20.
The New York Times on BPA in Cans
If you want a quick summary of the JAMA findings--head over to the New York Time's article written by Anahad O'Connor on November 22, 2011.
"People who ate one serving of canned food daily over the course of five days, the study found, had significantly elevated levels — more than a tenfold increase — of bisphenol-A, or BPA, a substance that lines most food and drink cans.
The new study, which was published [on November 23, 2011] in The Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first to measure the amounts that are ingested when people eat food that comes directly out of a can, in this case soup. The spike in BPA levels that the researchers recorded is one of the highest seen in any study.
“We cannot say from our research what the consequences are,” said Karin Michels, an associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard Medical School and an author of the study.
“But the very high levels that we found are very surprising. We would have never expected a thousand-percent increase in their levels of BPA.”
Dr. Michels noted that all the participants were fed amounts of soup that were smaller than what people probably would consume on their own.
“One serving of soup is a not a lot,” she said. “They were actually telling us that that wasn’t even enough for their lunch.”
But she also pointed out that the findings were probably applicable to other canned goods, including soda and juices.
“The sodas are concerning, because some people have a habit of consuming a lot of them throughout the day,” she said. “My guess is that with other canned foods, you would see similar increases in bisphenol-A. But we only tested soups, so we wouldn’t be able to predict the absolute size of the increase.”
Bring Your Own Popcorn to the Movies!
My Ziploc Bag of Contraband "Barbecue" Popcorn - Is It OK to Bring Your Own?
On Saturday, I worked all day--drove home, downed a quick bowl of soup, popped some popcorn in my hot-air popper to take to the theater--and headed out to see a movie. The plan was to see The Way, but it was sold-out.
We saw The Descendants instead. All four of us gave it a thumbs up. But, I still want to see The Way.
Here's how to make your own Barbecue Air-Popped Popcorn
- Use a hot air-popcorn popper.
- As the popcorn comes out, mist it with water (yes, it really works & it's not soggy) from a water spray bottle, and at the same time sprinkle on Bone Suckin' Sauce Seasoning & Rub (or the seasoning of your choice) It works a lot better than spraying the popcorn with cooking oil spray (which is what I used to do), with none of the fat! The water just evaporates on the hot popcorn.
- If you don't like barbecue flavor--just sprinkle on finely ground Morton's Popcorn Salt, or nutritional yeast. Plain popcorn is pretty boring, in my opinion.
But, this is supposed to be about bringing your own popcorn.
My husband thinks it's unethical. After all--I do have to "sneak" it into the theater.
But, I say, it's not like I'd eat the theater's popcorn, if I didn't bring my own. Are you kidding?
A medium combo (cola & bag of popcorn) at Regal has 1,610 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat. That's roughly the saturated fat of a stick of butter and the calories of two sticks of butter. To get the low-down on fat & salt content of the movie popcorn you're cluelessly munching, click here.
Chef AJ's Popcorn Experiment--Sugar, Salt, & Fat are the Evil Trifecta
Here's why we love our movie popcorn so much!
- Make yourself a big bowl of air-popped popcorn. Notice how you can't keep eating it after you're full.
- Now add salt to the bowl & notice how you'll eat more than if it were just air-popped
- Now add butter & salt to the bowl & notice how you'll eat even more of it.
- Now make some Kettle Corn--with popcorn, salt, butter, & sugar, and notice how it's impossible to stop. Sugar, Salt & Fat--the deadly Trifecta.
With Three Tips--I've Got Three Questions for You:
1. What do you think about the Green & Potegal temper tantrum research? Anyone agree with my adult "temper tantrum" comparison?
2. Do you have concerns about BPA in canned food--or do you kind of ignore the whole thing? I still bought canned tomatoes, so I'm glad Muir Glen made the switch.
3. Do you bring your own popcorn into the theater?