How can empathy be used to help tantrums?

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How can empathy be used to help tantrums?

What is happening in your child's brain when they're experiencing tantrum is, it's actually brain dis-regulation that happens whether a person is two or eighty two. The mid part of our brain, if you think of the hand as kind of a model for the brain, the mid part of your brain, the limbic system gets flooded with feelings, gets flooded with emotions and emits the stress hormone cortisol, which then hijacks the brain stem - the brain stem goes danger! danger! danger! - and then the prefrontal cortex, the reasoning center, kind of disconnects. So if we flip our lid, when we use empathy, that stimulates the flow of oxytocin, that's the love hormone. That, then calms the flow of cortisol so that the brain can reconnect. When you use empathy with a child, you can actually help them reintegrate their brain to move through those feelings to a place where they can reason, where you can problem solve.

Watch Video: How can empathy be used to help tantrums? by Kathy Gordon, ...


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Kathy Gordon

Parent Educator

Kathy Gordon is the single adoptive mother of a very spirited nine year-old boy, but was not prepared for the challenges of parenting a child whose brain was developed under stress. When her son was three, Kathy had the good fortune of taking parenting classes with Ruth Beaglehole, founding Director of the Center for Nonviolent Education and Parenting, (, and she realized this powerful compassionate method of working with children was something she wanted to teach. She has been a teacher, director and coach most of her adult life. Kathy was certified as a Parent Educator through the Center for Nonviolent Education and Parenting in May of 2008, and will now continue her training by becoming a Certified Hand-in-Hand Parenting Parent Educator. Kathy works with families individually, teaches parenting classes and facilitates trainings for educators and schools communities. Her practice is called Unconditional Connection because we all long for connection, and we long to be unconditionally loved. We live in a society in which we are continually judged by our behavior. Kathy offers research-based information and tools to help people look underneath and beyond the behavior, so that we may be more unconditionally connected thus creating a world of cooperation and peace. 

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