Every parent has had to deal with tantrums, but have you ever wondered if there was a better way? Or even a reason why your infant or toddler is in a manic state of discontent? Are all tantrums the same? Do they all have the same consequences?
Here are some good tips and tricks to handling a tantrum.
1. Don’t have a temper tantrum about your child’s temper tantrum. While it is frustrating for you when your child is having a tantrum getting upset or angry with them won’t resolve the issue. Children need a calming influence in a tantrum and if you can’t get to that point right away, take a few deep breathes and wait to react until you are a little calmer.
2. Briefly tell your child you will “speak with them when they calm down”. By making this explanation your child will know that you aren’t ignoring them but that the behavior is not acceptable. Once they calm down, fulfill your obligation by discussing the tantrum as well as concerns on both your and your child’s behalf.
3. Why is the tantrum occurring? Is it just an attempt to get their way or is it an expression of a different emotion? Sadness? Frustration? Are they feeling unwell? Children don’t know how to express their feelings the way adults do and therefore something like a stomach ache and something like being sad about not having a friend around can both manifest in a tantrum. Understanding what is causing the tantrum will lead to a more appropriate resolution and consequence.
4. Avoid trying to reason with your child DURING a tantrum. Talking with a child while they are throwing a tantrum is fruitless. They won’t hear you, you will both become more aggravated, and nothing with get accomplished. Wait until AFTER the tantrum to talk. You both can learn a lot by discussing the incident afterwards. Explain why behavior is unacceptable, but also make sure your child understands that you love him or her regardless. Try to discover the cause of the tantrum if you haven’t already, and take the opportunity to discuss better alternatives with your child.
5. Don’t Physically discipline your child for a tantrum. Consequences for a tantrum are a good thing but physical disciplines such as spanking aren’t fitting for the situation. It will display to your child that you are out of control, and the biggest is that is shows them that feelings should be suppressed and not vented (an infant/toddler is expressing feelings in the only way they are able).
6. Do, take steps to keep them injury free. We all know that children can get creative when they are throwing a tantrum. Direct them away from harm. If needed gentle restrain them with a hug it can be comforting. Be gentle and reassuring, this is especially important if the tantrum is a result of sadness, frustration, or an unfamiliar environment.
7.Have a Consequence or Coping Strategy. Once you have determined the cause of the tantrum determining the consequence is next. For a child who is having a tantrum because they were told no to a cookie that strategy could be “It’s to close to dinner but if you continue to be out of control you will go to your room until it is time to eat.” If you child accepts the ‘no’ praise him/her for listening “thank you for accepting no as an answer I appreciate that respectful behavior.” If they choose to not accept it, walk them firmly but nicely to their room and let them remain their until dinner. If the tantrum is caused by missing someone a better approach may be ” I know you really miss your daddy but why don’t we draw him a picture to feel better instead of throwing a fit.” Never tell your child their feelings are not valid but that their actions are inappropriate.
Little Miss had her first full out screaming, throwing herself down, full tantrum last week. It last for 47 minutes. I kept track. It was hard for me. From the second the tantrum started I knew the cause. LM was screaming for her daddy, she was missing him, and there was no other way for her to express that other than being upset. So I let her be upset. I let her scream and I tried to offer a few comforting words or touches but she was having none of it so I backed off. She cried – I am not going to lie I did too. It was heartbreaking for me to watch her be so upset. Finally she crawled over to me and nursed. While she was calming down I spoke softly too her. Telling her how much I loved her and that Daddy loved her and then after she nursed we watched a video Daddy sent to us a few weeks ago. That made her smile.
For me it was a learning experience, a growing experience, where I learned that not all tantrums or consequences are the same.
How do/did you combat the tantrums? Did your children respond to one response better than another?