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Posted By Daycarespotter.com - Parent Blog Contributor on 04/14/2018 in Useful Information For Parents

10 Temper Tantrum Tamers

10 Temper Tantrum Tamers

We’ve all been there. You get your kid fully dressed and out of the house to run a few painstaking errands. It took three trips to the van to get everyone loaded up with all of the appropriate accessories and no one needing to potty again.

No one wants to be out and about (it’s much more fun to stay home in pajamas playing with trains), but never-the-less, here you are looking for the best-priced paper towels in Target and right there in front of God and everybody, your kid starts throwing down.

Tantrums: one of the most dreaded parts of parenting young kids - especially when these tantrums happen in public.

Sometimes I see those moms in the aisles of the grocery store dealing with their screaming little one and I feel as though I should salute them. Anyone who says their kid would never act like “that” in public is clearly not a parent.

So what do you do when these less than magical parenting moments arise?

  1. Keep your cool. Take a breath. No one is watching you or judging you (and if they are, they clearly aren’t worth your time anyway). Before dealing with your child’s meltdown, you need to get a grip on yourself. It’s sort of like putting on your own oxygen mask first in the case of an airplane emergency.
  2. Speak to your child in a calm and affirming way. Let them know that you love them. Make eye contact with them. Validate that they are upset without giving in to their demands. Say things like, “I can see you are frustrated.” Try to avoid “absolute” words like don’t, no, and stop. Be firm, but loving. Model the calm behavior that you want them to exhibit. (I know, MUCH easier said than done). If your child is old enough, encourage them to use their words to get their point across to you.
  3. Give your child options. Don’t give in to whatever they are throwing a tantrum about, but find a way to give them options and some amount of power in the situation. For instance, if they are screaming because they really want those Barbie Band-Aids, don’t buy the Barbie Band-Aids, but instead give them a choice about which aisle you will go down next or what flavor of chips to buy.
  4. Distract them.  If giving them choices doesn’t help to divert their attention, try distracting them with something else. Pull out a toy from the diaper bag, point out an interesting sign in the store, play eye spy, give them a snack, etc.
  5. Be silly. The last thing you probably feel in the middle of one of your children’s meltdowns is funny or lighthearted, but silliness is a great way to diffuse and distract kids. Making your kid laugh through their tears is a wonderful way to bring them back down to reality and can help you put some perspective on the situation for yourself. Even when your child is acting like a raging monster, that goofy, lovable little buddy of yours is still in there somewhere.
  6. Remove them from the situation. Sometimes you just have to abandon that cart full of stuff in the middle of the store and get the heck out of dodge. Your child (and you) may need a complete reset and removing yourself from the scene of the crime may be the best way to calm everyone down. This option allows you to give your child some space to work through their emotions. It also sends the message to your child that acting like that in public won’t be tolerated. If you are already at home, taking a break will help there, too.
  7. Circle back to the meltdown later. In older preschoolers (and beyond), kids have the communication skills to later have a conversation about how they acted. In the heat of the moment, it is almost impossible to reason with them, but talking things through afterward can help you validate how your kid was feeling and help them work through how better to handle those feelings in the future. It also can give you insight into their triggers. Lastly (but certainly not least), it is another opportunity to let your child know how much you love them no matter how they behave. That sense of security goes a long way.
  8. Use lots of positive reinforcement. Mid-tantrum, using positive reinforcement is difficult if not impossible, but the more you praise good behavior in your child in general, the less they will act out with bad behavior. Kids want attention, so make sure you regularly notice when they are doing things right. This could even happen right after a meltdown. You could praise them for getting it together and reward that behavior with something as small as a sticker or a great big hug.
  9. Find positive, safe ways to get out their anger and negative emotions. Some children struggle with tantrums more than others. This can be true for older kids as well as younger ones. If tantrums seem to be a constant struggle for your child, it might be a good idea to get them involved in safe ways to get out their anger and frustration. Martial arts and other sports are great options for older kids. For any age child, movement helps. If you see your child getting frustrated, have them dance around, run a lap around the backyard, do some jumping jacks, etc. Anything to get it out! For some kids, this could also look like drawing pictures or writing about how they are feeling.
  10. Make sure your child (and you) have plenty of rest and eat throughout the day. I am a firm believer that being “hangry” is a real thing. When your child doesn’t have enough sleep or hasn’t eaten in a while, it is more difficult to control their emotions and reactions to things. The same is probably true for you.

Whatever works best for your child to help defuse and prevent those tantrums, use it! Every child is different and what your child needs will continue to change as they grow.

Make sure to keep your child in the loop with how you expect them to act and reward them when they meet those expectations. Know that no matter how frustrating tantrums seem, you are not alone in them. All kids go through phases of tantrums and all parents are just doing their best to keep their kids safe and happy. You’ve got this!

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