How Can Parents Deal With Temper Tantrums?

A temper tantrum can turn your whole day upside down.

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?

Young children need regularity.

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.

If you can see a temper tantrum brewing, divert your child's attention to something nearby.

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.

One reason a child may throw a temper tantrum is that they want control over their decisions.

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.

Tagging along while you run errands and do chores is boring for most children.

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.

If your child's temper tantrum has already started, keep calm.

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.

A temper tantrum in public can be overwhelming.

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.

Your child has genuine feelings without adult ways to convey them.

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.

While acknowledging their feelings, teach your child to identify 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.

Some children will feel more secure and calm when held during a tantrum.

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.

If you can, move your child to a quieter space.

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.

Tell your child what you want, need, and expect from them.

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.

Your child wants your attention.

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.

Before you start ignoring every cry from your child, always make sure it's a temper tantrum.

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 is still an active form of parenting.

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.

Communicate to loved ones, friends, and caregivers about your ignoring philosophy.

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.

Combined with ignoring, praising good behavior will teach your child good from bad behaviors.

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.

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  15. Ignoring is still an active form of parenting.
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REFERENCES:

  • CDC: "How to Use Ignoring."
  • Child Welfare Information Gateway: "Dealing With Temper Tantrums."
  • Harvard Health Publishing: "How to respond to tantrums."
  • National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse: "TEMPER TANTRUMS AND TERRIBLE TWOS - WHAT'S A DAD TO DO?"
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