How to deal with temper tantrums

Boy having a tantrum

Tantrums provide the perfect opportunity to start teaching problem solving skills

Dealing with temper tantrums is undoubtedly one of the least fun aspects of parenting.  The balance between building your child’s confidence and setting appropriate boundaries is easily upset and may result in a range of negative outcomes if the scale swings too far in either direction.  Here are some of the ways in which you can deal with temper tantrums:

  • Be sure to react in a calm manner, no matter how upset you feel.  Children model their parents’ behaviour and if you consistently act in a calm manner, children will eventually learn to do the same.

  • Never, ever give in to your child’s temper tantrums.  By caving to your child’s demands you are teaching him that your boundaries are inconsistent and that he need not listen to you as you’re bound to change your mind anyway.  If your child has a tantrum in a public place it may be necessary

  • Establish regular routines – children who know what to expect are less likely to feel overwhelmed and have emotional melt downs.

Give limited choices.  It is important for children to feel that they have some control and that you are interested in their thoughts and feelings.  But young children simply aren’t capable of making complex decisions.  Only ever give your child two options to choose from. For example: “Do you want to wear the green shirt or the orange shirt?” If your child becomes upset and says that he doesn’t want either, explain that those are the only choices and that you will choose for him if he doesn’t choose himself.

  • Create a “yes” environment as far as is possible.  By childproofing your house  you can decrease the amount of time you need to say “No!” and “Don’t touch” and so create a much calmer environment for your child to be in.

  • For most part, tantrums can usually be avoided by distracting and redirecting  your child’s attention when you see that things are about to get out of hand.

  • Using time out gives your child the opportunity to calm herself and so learn self-regulating behaviour.

  • Try to catch your child being good – praising good behaviour and ignoring bad behaviour is one of the most effective ways to guide your child’s behaviour.

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