Ways to Handle Tantrums
Too often, when children are having tantrums, it can be really hard for the parents from having their own meltdowns at the same time. As difficult as tantrums can be, unfortunately, they tend to be a part of childhood. Children between the ages of one and four have not yet developed coping skills that are appropriate and they just tend to simply lose it when they are upset.
As parents, this is difficult, but how can parents stop these tantrums? Here are a few ways in which parents can at least get things down to a tolerable level if not stop the tantrums totally.
Try to Take Steps to Prevent Tantrums
It’s important to try and set aside some regular time for playing with preschoolers. It’s important to let them take the lead in picking out what they want to do and then give them your total attention during this playtime. By having a shared and positive experience is going to give children a much better foundation for them to calm down the next time they might get upset over something.It’s important to look for chances to point out their good behaviors, even if they are just small ones. The more positive the attention they get for a desired good behavior, the more likely they will do that behavior again.
Even if tantrums do occur, as a parent it’s important that even if they lose it themselves, that once it is over that the parent should admit they lost their temper by perhaps saying to them “Oh, Mommy really overreacted to all of this.” They need to see and hear that it is alright to make mistakes sometimes. Also it’s important to set a child up for success. It’s important to be aware of different situations that seem to set off tantrums and then try to plan accordingly. If they tend to get angry when they’re hungry make sure to have a healthy snack nearby or if they have tantrums when they tend to be tired, make sure to make taking a nap a key priority.
Avoid Trying to Calm Them Down
When children throw tantrums, the best thing a parent can do is to ignore them, unless they are trying to physically harm themselves or others around them. When a parent takes away their attention totally, they won’t be reinforcing the childs bad behavior. A parent should walk out of the room and then try setting a timer for just a few minutes and then check on them once the timer has gone off. If a child however is kicking, biting, hitting, or throwing items during one of their tantrums, a parent should stop them and then remove them from the situation. It’s important to let them know that hurting other people is definitely unacceptable. Privileges should be taken away and they should be put in a timeout if that seems necessary. Timeouts however, should be saved for tantrums with harmful behavior only. If timeouts are used too often they lose their effectiveness.
The Louder They Yell, the Softer a Parent Should Speak
All children will end up trying to match the volume of their parents volum because the whole thing is about engaging with their parents. So, it’s important to remember that the child may be feeling sad or frustrated at the moment so that as a parent you need to remain calm. If tantrums start in a public place then it’s important to take them away from the situation and try to offer them a different option by sitting down on a bench or in the car until they settle down. It’s important that the parent doesn’t try to outdo their child in volume. Always speak softly during these tense times no matter how difficult it tends to be.
Follow Up After Tantrums
It’s important that after tantrums are over to go back and revisit what may have started it all. If it was asking them to put away a toy, or to it was over not being able to have a snack before lunch, and so on. It’s important to ask them when they are calm to go back and do what they had been asked to do before the tantrum started. Once they do they are asked then it’s important to give them praise for doing the right thing.
Try to Understand Why They React So Strongly
Even though preschoolers can use words to tell parents what they need or want, but that doesn’t mean their tantrums are over. They are still learning how to handle their emotions, so even a minor disagreement can quickly trun ugly and turn into a total fit. Children value their growing independence, but of course they need the help of their parents, it can be extremely frustrating for parents. Parents need to try to pay attention to what might be setting their child off. Could it be a challenging task, like learning to tie their shoes and then finding out they still can’t do it on their own? Even though most tantrums start with anger, most of them really are rooted in sadness and disappointment in the child. Kids love thinking how big and grown up they are and when they discover they can’t do something it can be quite frustrating and upsetting for them.
Give Them Some Space
Just like adults, sometimes children just need to be able to get their anger out. So, often times it simply helps if parents let them do just that and give them some time and their own space during tantrums. As long as the tantrum is nondestructive then it’s perfectly fine to pull away from it and let them get themselves under control. Allow them to get their feelings out and make sure that there is no yelling match going on.
Try Creating a Diversion
Creating a diversion is all about using a deft mental switcheroo that gets the child to engage and become interested in something else so they forget about the tantrum they were having. This can often work well with most children since they tend to have short attention spans and at this age they can easily be diverted to something else. It will work best if the parent acts like they are really, excited about this new thing they want their child to do instead of the tantrum. Diversion is a good way to get their mind off of what was making them mad to begin with.
Give Big Hugs
To many parents, this might seem like the very last thing they want to do when their kids are throwing tantrums, but it can really help to calm them down. By giving them a huge and very cuddly hug will make them feel secure and that you care about them.
Give Them Incentives to Behave
It’s important that parents know what might trigger tantrums, it could be sitting at a restaurant for a long meal, or being quiet in church. Whatever it might be, plan ahead by understanding you might be asking a lot of your child and then give them some preemptive bribes. For instance while on the way to church tell them that if they behave while in church then they’ll be able to say watch their favorite video when they get home. Whatever it is they enjoy most, offer this as an incentive for good behavior in situations they simply don’t enjoy.
Try to Laugh Off the Tantrums
It’s really hard if children throw tantrums in public and it can be quite embarrassing for the parent. But the last thing a parent wants to do is to give in. Kids are smarter than most think and they will quickly learn that if they throw their tantrums in public they’ll always get what they want. The best thing a parent can do is to simply laugh it off and remove them from the situation and go on with business like normal. It’s difficult but it will not encourage them to keep doing things like this in public.
As angry as tantrums can make parents, it’s important to ignore the urge to spank them. Parents need to take deep breaths and then consider what they want their child to learn from the experience. It’s important to find a discipline that will have the most impact and will remind them of what it will cost them if they throw more tantrums. It’s not easy, but it can be done.