Kicking and Screaming: Dealing With Temper Tantrums
A temper tantrum can turn your whole day upside down. Whether your child throws themselves on the ground, screams, cries, or stomps around, tantrums will test your patience. So, how do you deal with them?
Keep a Routine
Young children need regularity. By maintaining a regular schedule for naps, meals, and playtime, you can sometimes predict when the routine will be broken and prevent a temper tantrum.
Look at That!
If you can see a temper tantrum brewing, divert your child's attention to something nearby. For example, introduce them to a toy, point out a cool car, or give them a quick activity to do. Getting their attention on something else will distract them from whatever may cause their temper tantrum.
Give Your Child Responsibility
One reason a child may throw a temper tantrum is that they want control over their decisions. So, let them make choices about what they eat, play with, or wear when possible. This sense of responsibility will ensure they don't feel as helpless and make them less likely to throw tantrums.
Anticipate Temper Tantrum Causes
Tagging along while you run errands and do chores is boring for most children. If you know your child won't enjoy something, let them be responsible by giving them choices. For example, let them pick out some groceries, choose where to go next, or decide what to eat for dessert.
It's Too Late: Tantrum Time
If your child's temper tantrum has already started, keep calm. Modeling calmness will teach them how to handle an undesirable situation. Take some deep breaths, ground yourself, and proceed calmly.
Don't Get Overwhelmed
A temper tantrum in public can be overwhelming. You may worry what other people think or that you're bothering them. But, you aren't the only parent with a child, and people understand that temper tantrums happen.
Validate What Your Child's Feeling
Your child has genuine feelings without adult ways to convey them. Temper tantrums, however, often have no logical roots. Still, try to acknowledge why your child is having a temper tantrum aloud to show that you see and hear them.
Label Their Feelings
While acknowledging their feelings, teach your child to identify them. They may not know what they're feeling, and helping them label their emotions can potentially prevent future tantrums.
Use Touch to Soothe a Tantrum
Some children will feel more secure and calm when held during a tantrum. On the other hand, some children may react poorly to being touched during a tantrum. Do whichever works best for your child.
Change the Scene
If you can, move your child to a quieter space. Attention from others can make their tantrum worse (and put more stress on you). A more peaceful area can also help soothe your child.
Talk About Your Expectations
Tell your child what you want, need, and expect from them. Conveying your expectations can prevent temper tantrums and potentially pull them out of a tantrum.
Ignoring Is the Ultimate Tool
Your child wants your attention. Sometimes, your child will throw a temper tantrum to get your attention. Giving them your attention rewards them for bad behavior.
Be Quick to Ignore
During a temper tantrum, reward good behaviors but return to ignoring when the tantrum resumes. The constant shifting of attention may be difficult, but it'll help your child understand which behaviors are acceptable.
Only Ignore Certain Misbehaviors
Before you start ignoring every cry from your child, always make sure it's a temper tantrum. Your child may cry or whine when they've hurt themselves, and ignoring their cries in situations like this can be harmful. Similarly, if your child does something dangerous during a temper tantrum (such as running away from you in public), you shouldn’t ignore them.
Ignoring Isn't Neglecting
Ignoring is still an active form of parenting. You actively don't give your child attention. By ignoring bad behaviors, you teach them that those behaviors are undesirable.
Ignore With Friends and Family
Communicate to loved ones, friends, and caregivers about your ignoring philosophy. Then, when your child sees that everyone ignores their bad behaviors, they'll eventually understand that their behaviors are the cause and eventually stop.
Praise Good Behavior
Combined with ignoring, praising good behavior will teach your child good from bad behaviors. Reward good behaviors through whatever works for your child: hugs, kisses, toys, candy, or stickers.