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Have you ever met a child who has never, in their life, had a tantrum?
I’m pretty sure I’ve never met one, but if you have, please let us all in on your secret for preventing them!
As children develop, they want to see, do, touch and try new things.
Unfortunately, along with that comes a whole range of reasons why they can’t see, do touch, have or try certain things, for example “No, you can’t touch the fire, because you will burn yourself” or “No, you can’t take that dead fish home with you to play with because it will get stinky” (I’m not kidding, I saw this on youtube last week!).
The more a little one hears “no” “don’t” “stop” or “you can’t have” the more they get frustrated (they may not yet have the verbal skills to explain what they’re trying to achieve, think of the “terrible twos!”) and then the tantrums eventuate.
So, what can we do about it?
I have a few idea’s based on my psych background, but since I’m not a parent myself (and I think there can be a real gap between what the science says, and how things actually go down when you’re the parent!) we spread the word asking for parents to weigh in with their best tips for preventing and managing tantrums.
Here’s a selection of some of the best tip’s we received:
A calm, low, quiet voice.
I speak slowly, yet constantly. As my child is forced to work harder to hear me, this distracts him from the work of the tantrum.
Once I have his attention back on me, then I can redirect him.
In the middle of a tantrum I will countdown from 10 very slowly in a super calm voice.
The child having a tantrum will stop to listen to me, which helps them learn to calm themselves down, also giving me a second to calm myself down before I react.
My son has just turned two. We are fully experiencing the terrible twos with tantrums on an almost daily basis and sometimes several times per day.
The best advice I can give is to let the tantrum play out and ignore the unwanted behaviour to not encourage it by providing a reaction.
If you feel super frustrated put your child in a separate safe room from yourself until one of you has calmed down.
If you are in public try not to feel embarrassed about it. It’s difficult when other people are staring, but it’s more than likely many of them have been through this stage themselves and are in fact feeling sympathetic!
Melissa from Educational Strategies
A former teacher, parent to three children, PHD candidate, and provider of educational services throughout the world via in person and Skype sessions provided her tips on how she stays calm:
Tantrums can be weathered even if you don’t give your child what they want. Remember, it isn’t about you, it’s about your child learning that they don’t control everyone and everything.
This is a long process and feels frustrating to most children.
Take a breath, be patient, step away if you need a moment to calm yourself, and once you are both calm either stand firm with your decision or talk through a compromise with your child so you both get what you want out of the situation.
Of course, setting the rules and boundaries, make an effective and positive communication with kids, keep a meaningful observation to find out the real cause behind the tantrum (in a case of severe and repeated tantrums), and keep your own temper in control are some mandatory steps to control tantrums.
But personally, I believe, find out a creative way to control tantrums works best.
Instead of punching on wall and pillow, why not involve kids in drawing, painting, crafting or any other creative activity?
It will not only help in controlling the tantrum in a positive way but also helps to make them happier, less anxious, more resilient and better equipped to problem-solve in the face of hardship, as well.
And lastly, I’ve weighed in from an Oh Beehave! perspective too, sharing three of our strategies:
Identify The Trigger
Is there a particular situation, experience, time of day, toy, person, game, TV show etc that happens either before or after the tantrum? If you are unsure, monitor your child’s tantrums over a few days. Write down what happens immediately before and after the tantrum occurs.
Click here to learn more about this strategy.
Remove the Reinforcer
Is there something that is encouraging your child to have a tantrum? In some cases, certain responses can act as a reward, unfortunately reinforcing the tantrum behaviour.
Click here to learn more about this strategy.
This strategy will be more appropriate for older children, but may also work with children who are younger. You can teach your child to use “self-talk” to help them find alternative strategies to calm themselves when they feel a tantrum coming on.
Click here to learn how.
How do you prevent and manage tantrums? Let us know in the comments below (if you have a website, feel free to include the link).
What did you think of our first edition of “Who’s The Expert”?
Dominique has a background in psychology and education and uses her knowledge to share simple and effective behaviour strategies with parents on her website Oh Beehave! created by her and her husband Sam. Dominique and Sam are recently married, so while they were working together to build their website, they decided it would be a fun side project to blog about their experience towards parenthood. Unfortunately, their journey has been more challenging than they (or anyone else) could have anticipated. Follow along to see how their journey pans out on the blog at Oh Beehave!