Temper tantrums are part of the normal development of children and they occur more particularly at the age when they begin to develop their autonomy, that is from 18 months. It is also observed that temper tantrums are more common in children who are not comfortable expressing their annoyance verbally. The cries and gestures are then more evident.
In these circumstances, Célia Levavasseur, pediatrician in a public maternity hospital, advises using what she calls the contention of love. It’s a concept she discusses in her book. A guide for young parents who don’t want to die of exhaustion (Nathan). But then what is it and what is it for? She explains to us.
Love contention: what is it?
“A child or an adult who is not well cries, howls… His brain is then flooded with cortisol which is the stress hormone.”, begins the pediatrician. “In the event of a crisis, grab your child and hold him firmly, his back against your belly, so as not to be hit.” It is hug your child tightlyto rock him, while reassuring him and telling him that you love him, that you are there for him.
Restraint of love: a way to relieve the pressure
If a high level of cortisol is found in the body over a prolonged period, we increase the risk develop depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder. Leaving a child in crisis when he is in distress is therefore not the solution. “However, we must not forbid a child to cry because in his tears, he also evacuates cortisol. Crying is also a biological function to evacuate this stress hormone”, declares Célia Levavasseur.
“When you hug someone, the prolonged physical contact for at least 20 seconds allows your brain to secrete oxytocin”, explains the pediatrician. This hormone behaves in the brain like a neuropeptide. It could inhibit, via the gabaergic system, the activity of the limbic amygdala which is involved in fear detection. Thus, the restraint of love makes it possible to ease the tension and for your child, to be reassured. It allows you to accompany your child gently and help him.