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The adult temper tantrum

The adult temper tantrum

What does your meltdown look like? Do you retreat into a wall of silence? Or do you explode with anger? Or do you pretend that these feelings you are experiencing are not yours, a bit like collecting someone else’s luggage at the airport.

We all have tantrums, just some are better at disguising them. There are four easy and basic steps to follow to help you through the black hole of the tantrum.

What is it that will push you to the brink? Is it being ignored or talked over? The list is endless here. I had a tantrum the other day. It wasn’t pretty. And I had to apologise to the kind ladies at swimming who were my audience and the recipients. I am very fond of these ladies and they certainly did not need me exploding at 4pm on a Monday. I apologised with triple-chocolate cookies a couple of days later.

After my outburst I went home to my husband to tell my story. This sort of behaviour generally puts me squarely in the victim role of “oh poor me”. Not with my husband. He generally looks concerned for the recipients.

The four steps to navigate the tantrum are to check in with your body, check in with your thoughts, focus on the outcome you want and take four really deep breaths. I thought about how I could have handled things better in the moment of my tantrum.

1. Check in with your body.

Most of the time when we are overwhelmed, we should first pause to ask ourselves – what else is happening with me to send me over the edge?

· Am I hungry?

· Am I tired?

· Am I thirsty? When was the last time I drank water?

· Am I stressed about something else?

Pretty basic I know, but carelessly forgotten in the heat of the moment.

2. Check in with your thoughts

Take note of what is irritating the crap out of you. This is valuable information. What line has been crossed in your world and by whom? Pay attention to your thoughts and resist the temptation to excuse them with platitudes such as “I shouldn’t feel that way”.

My favourite thoughts are the ones that involve someone else. Those thoughts are easy to challenge and ultimately change your perspective. For example, he should have told me.

3. Focus on the outcome you want

Most of us are too busy for feelings. We have too much to do. We need to achieve to get a release of dopamine to feel good about ourselves. We may meet a friend and share a wine to retell our tale of woe. This again, makes you a victim. The problem with being a victim, is that victims are powerless and unable to improve their situation. I recommend focusing on the outcome that you want, instead of getting stuck on what didn’t happen.

4. Take four really deep breaths.

Ideally before expressing your discontent (particularly if you are fire-breathing dragon incinerating all that is around you). Or pushing send on that email. Or hitting the post button.

Good luck with navigating your tantrums. They are quite healthy really. Just try not to verbally cremate/burn anyone in the process. Or you may need my recipe for chocolate cookies.

If you want to have fewer tantrums, especially with your kids, and live on the Sunshine Coast then my course ‘Creating calm from chaos’ may help.

“Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” James 1v.19 (Bible)

Thank you Aarón Blanco Tejedor for sharing his work on UNSPLASH


I am a coach, mother and wife, living in the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. I grew up in South London, in an immigrant family in the suburbs. But I had good fortune with my parents: Dad was born in Calcutta, India, and my Mum came from communist Poland. In the 1970s I got to leave Croydon, and travel with my family through India, and behind the Iron Curtain. I saw parts of the world that my classmates could not comprehend. It sparked my wanderlust and gave me a great respect for how big and diverse our world is. And I gained an ability to move between different cultures, assimilating into them.

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