There are few things more stressful as a parent than being out with your brood and having one kid flip out. Yep, those little people have one hell of a temper, and when it manifests into a tantrum, all bets are off.
It can be downright frustrating to try and wrangle your child in a situation like this, let alone calm them down without folding to all of your parental morals. So what’s a mum or dad to do when tempers flair? And how can these tantrums be avoided in the future?
We’re going to look at both of those things here.
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Avoiding The Tantrum
Now, obviously the winning move here is to avoid the tantrum all together. Luckily, there are a few methods that you might try to do this. Remember, when it comes to behavioural training like this, it is important to exercise repetition. If you only act a certain way sometimes, you’re just confusing the kiddies more.
Reward Positives Not Negatives
Giving in to your kids when they’re in the middle of a tantrum says one thing: “Tantrums get me what I want.” Instead of perpetuating this idea with them, keep an eye out for their good behaviour and reward for that. This is particularly true when that behaviour is related to their ‘tantrum triggers’ like sharing toys or eating their dinner.
Consider Your Responses
How often do you say no to your child’s reasonable requests? Take a few days and consider how often you say no to things as a knee-jerk response, and then evaluate whether this larger portion of negative responses has an impact on your child’s behaviours. Remember that fighting over minor things is often a waste of energy on both sides.
Change The Environment
Removing your child from the source of the temper tantrum is a good way to distract them and, therefore, calm them. Sometimes, kids get so overwhelmed, and so caught up in their anger that they’re not really angry about anything in particular, just about their powerlessness. And with that in mind…
Give Them A Little Control
Kids are little, and they know it. You’d get annoyed to if you didn’t have any power, so why not give them a little? When it comes to their tantrum triggers, give kids some control before the tantrum comes along. So if they hate shopping, have them help you choose their favourite snacks, pick their fruit or cereal etc.
Dealing With The Tantrum
Of course every now and again, despite your best efforts, your child is going to throw one. And it’s probably going to be out in public, or at the moment you’re most stressed, and it is going to be loud. So what can you do?
Catch Them Before It Goes Too Far
We all know the moment that kids are out of control, so why not grab them before they really lose it? When you see the tantrum building, get down onto your child’s level, look them in the eye, and say something like: “You’re getting overboard here, let’s both slow down.”
Keep Calm and Carry On
The key thing when you’re in the middle of a tantrum is your own personal calm. Although it is hard, the worst thing that you can do for your kid is throw an equally impressive tantrum. Take a moment to breath, count to ten, and then think about what your response will be in the circumstances.
Find The Source
Kids throw tantrums for lots of reasons, but the big ones are because they’re hungry, tired, or looking for attention. If your child is hungry tell them that once they calm down and make a polite request, you will be able to help them. If they’re tired, suggest that they take a moment to be by themselves. And if it’s just attention, ignore their bad behaviour, while explaining to them that you can’t help them until they can tell you exactly what they want.
Ride It Out
There are always going to be points where there’s nothing that you can feasibly do for your kid but let them rage it out. Give them the space that they need to vent their anger, or keep them close if they’re at risk of hurting themselves or someone else. Temper tantrums are a perfectly natural part of your child’s development.
After a temper tantrum, you have an opportunity to build your child’s behaviour in a positive direction. Sit down with them and start a discussion about why they had the tantrum, what they got out of it (hopefully nothing), and other ways that they might share their feelings in the future.