No More Tantrums Please!
Some parents believe that children will outgrow tantrums. Really? I know some 35-year-olds that can throw impressive tantrums! Don’t you? Some are loud and some are quietly passive aggressive. Want some tips on how to stop a tantrum from happening? Try the following:
Pre-empt a tantrum
If you know it is near to nap/sleep time, reconsider a trip outside the home. Instead, choose a quiet activity in preparation. Maybe quiet music, book reading, puzzle building or cuddles with soft toys in a tent.
If there is a friend/cousin coming to play, watch for signs of irritation/bullying/misunderstanding and try to intervene and/or teach where necessary to prevent an issue arising.
Role play can be very helpful when teaching sharing and turn-taking skills. Teach your child this before the situation arises and when he/she is in a happy space.
Our behavior and moods are affected by the foods we eat. When we do not eat well we do not feel well. We can feel irritable, short tempered, tired, grumpy, sad, melancholy, over energetic, argumentative or all the above within a matter of minutes!
Children do not have the wisdom to make the right decisions when it comes to a healthy diet. Therefore, we do not need to feel compelled to give children what they want, but rather what they need.
Boundaries at home
How can you expect a child to listen in public to an instruction like, “Stop crying,” or “No, and don’t ask again”, when they are not responding to this at home? Being in charge, not in control, at home creates the same relationship outside the home. Being in control gives a child no choices, being in charge, provides safe and predictable age appropriate boundaries with a clear set of expectations and consequences. This way they will feel confident and safe. I believe this is the most effective way to prevent a tantrum in public.
There is no point in holding your breath and wishing away the tantrum stage, its far more beneficial to learn to handle them effectively at different ages and stages.
A 16-month old tantrum looks quite different to a 3-year old tantrum, and an 8-year old tantrum differs from a 15-year-old tantrum. But tantrum they will! However, I teach parents that when a child does not get their way, they object profusely but if a parent can stay calm, with a strong resolve and stick to their guns, their rage will turn into sadness and disappointment. When this happens, the child ONLY needs to deal with a time-out, loss of privilege or a consequence.
They get over this very quickly. However, what a child can NOT deal with is a relational consequence. This is when a parent screams, demeans, ignores, gets angry and generally creates a feeling of emotional/physical rejection. The child battles to overcome these feelings of rejection because it then becomes a personal attack and they then focus on feeling unloved. The emphasis is also then on the parents’ anger instead of the child focusing on what he has done wrong.
We need to be hard on the issue, but soft on the child. They must always feel loved. The important message we need to constantly portray is, “I love you, but I will not accept your behavior”.