Tips on Handling Tantrums
Can you think of a time where either you had a toddler or you witnessed a toddler in the store checkout line throwing a tantrum? Google's definition of tantrum is "an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child". As a parent it is difficult to handle this uncontrolled outburst. How a parent response helps defuse the situation and helps the child for the future.
Think about it. Does it help if the parent gives in to the child acting out over wanting a piece of candy? The parent might be surrender for many reasons such as, feeling exhausted, embarrassed, wanting to quickly get out of the store, or all of the above. Keep in mind that children are constantly learning. In the definition, it mentions frustration. Many young children are trying to learn to manage emotions. When they become challenged or have trouble figuring something that is when frustration can trigger anger. We will never be able to prevent tantrums all together but, there is many approaches that parents can take to address tantrums. This past week I had the opportunity to watch a parent with his toddler in action.
I hope many people watched and recognized what a marvelous job he did addressing the situation. The key was that he stayed calm. Even though there was a gym full of band parents and youth watching the situation, the parent stayed calm and used a very caring voice to speak to his child. You can see that he said a couple of word and identified where he was going to sit. The child's outburst lasted on a couple minutes as he sat there on the floor. The child was aware of where his father went to sit. You could still tell he was angry because his body posture and facial expression was noticeable. After, just a few minutes he was sitting right next to his father. As parents we have to be careful not to give attention to the outburst but, to mention later that the behavior will not get your attention.
Consider what you can do to help address or discourage tantrums:
- Be consistent- Have a routine at home, shopping, and school.
- Plan ahead- Make sure you child is feed before going to the store. Pack a small snack or toy to occupy their time.
- Let your child make choices- If you are shopping for fruit ask if they want banana or strawberries.
- Praise good behavior- Acknowledge the behavior you are expecting and wanting. This could be with an extra hug, and praise.
- Avoid situations that can trigger tantrums- Steer clear of areas of temptations in stores. Be mindful of your child's age and what can tempt them.
You might say, what happens if your child is destructive or dangerous? Well, make sure that you don't make threats. Plan ahead a select timeout spot or location. Keep in mind that you don't want it to be an incentive so, make sure it is at a place that doesn't resemble a reward. Again, be consistent with your consequences. It is important that if you mention a discipline then stick with it. Don't ignore it because again, the child is learning. Make sure you end time outs and discipline at a reasonable time. Sometimes as parents we become angry and we need to make sure we can follow through with the discipline.
Again, you may never complete encounter a tantrum but, you can defuse it or discourage it quickly.