DEALING WITH TANTRUMS
STOP THAT TANTRUM!
Tantrums are not always unpredictable although sometimes it seems they come out of nowhere. Children who are in a peaceful environment, rested, well fed, occupied with interesting activities and therefore not bored are the least likely to have a meltdown. Once a child starts to get stressed, cranky, restless, hungry or whiny, you can deduce that it may be possible for a tantrum to occur. The best thing you could do is to be alert to these signals and try to diffuse the situation by doing something different with your child immediately. You can sing a song, recite some rhymes, start playing a game together or bring your child into another room, for example. At this point you are trying to change his mindset and refocus his energy.
Some parents put the child in his room to cry and wail until he calms down, some ignore the screams and tears while others feel distressed and helpless. Whatever way you handle your child’s tantrums, I know they are frustrating and can seem to happen without warning.
10 TANTRUM SURVIVAL TIPS
- Stay calm! It is normal to feel exasperated, annoyed, irritated or helpless during temper tantrums that seems to start over something we perceive as inconsequential. It could happen because you added peas to your child’s dinner plate or because the cat happened to walk by. There is no point to adding stress to an already stressful situation. This is not the time to fall apart. Because you are the adult, you must remain in control and handle this without yelling, getting upset or even angry with your child.
- Do not give ultimatums during a tantrum like “Get in the car now or you will go straight to your room when we get home!” or “That’s it! No play time tonight!” Your child is in no state to listen or much less process the fact that his behavior is subject to punishment at a later time. In fact, a delayed punishment is mostly ineffective when dealing with very young children.
- Do not give orders like “Put on your boots NOW!” or “Stop that screaming!” This may just escalate the tantrum. Your child will not suddenly calm down and do as you ask.
- Do not ask questions like “Why are you doing this?” or “What’s the matter with you?” In the first place, your child does not know why he is doing this and, if he is screaming and crying, will not stop to reply to a question for which he has no answer.
- Do not try reasoning with your child. There is no use in saying, for example, “There is nothing wrong that I can see, so you don’t have to do this.” A tantrum is unplanned by the child and unreasonable.
- Do not try bribery e.g., “If you stop crying now, we’ll go to the toy store.” or “Stop crying and we’ll get an ice cream.” This will only teach your child that if he cries long and loudly enough, he will end up with something he likes.
- Wait it out. Your child will eventually become tired and the sobbing will become less intense. That’s the point at which you can offer some words of encouragement e.g., “There, there. Are you starting to feel better?” Once the tantrum is over, your child will most likely need a hug and some kind, reassuring words.
- Do not feel embarrassed in front of an audience. It may be that the tantrum is happening at the store, the mall, or at a family gathering and people are watching the scenario. Always remember that it is not an indicator of your parenting skills. As a matter of fact, most parents have lived through and survived their children’s tantrums, so they understand.
- In the future, be on the lookout for a possible meltdown. Tiredness, hunger, and frustration are important factors to consider, so be sure to keep your child on schedule with sleep, meals, and playtime. If you see your child getting cranky or whiny, try to diffuse the situation by singing, playing a game, or doing an enjoyable activity together.
- Discuss the tantrum calmly with your child at a later time or even the next day when he is calm and back to his usual self. Discuss possible alternative reactions he could try when feeling frustrated.
Remember that, as your child gets older and can communicate better, the number of tantrums he has will diminish until they gradually disappear. Until then, you will just have to be patient and continue being a good parent who deserves a pat on the back for effort and a job well done!
If you have any questions, ask them below in the Comments Box. If you prefer, perhaps sharing your ideas will help others. How do you deal with your child’s temper tantrums?