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How to best control your child’s temper

18/06/2013 | Child Health, Parent Health, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

If you’re the parent of more than one child then you probably already realise that all children are different. Some children throw tantrums all the time and some never throw them at all. Throwing a tantrum, in most cases, is no more than a child’s way to express their anger and frustration and, if it’s dealt with incorrectly, a child may end up learning that they can use their tantrums to manipulate their parents, gain attention and get what they want. That being said, the best way to make sure that you’re not dealing with tantrums all the time is to teach your child or children acceptable ways of expressing their anger.

For you as a parent there are a number of things that you need to keep in mind when your child is in the middle of throwing a temper tantrum. They are;

·          Don’t punish them while they are throwing a tantrum.

·          Don’t reward them during the tantrum, ever.

·          Stay as calm as you can and, if possible, ignore their behavior.

·          Keep them as safe as possible during the tantrum.

·          Isolate them from other people and especially other children when possible.

·          Whatever your response to their tantrum, don’t let the disapproving stares of others affect you.

Essentially, when a child is throwing a tantrum they are completely out of control and so it’s best that you stay in control. if you punish your child while they are in the midst of throwing a tantrum by spanking them, yelling at them or some other behavior, what you actually do is make the tantrum worse and prolong the type of behavior that’s behind it.

Giving in to your child’s demands, similar to punishing them, is a bad move as well but probably worse. The reason is that this will teach your child that they can use tantrums to get what they want, a form of behavior that could actually follow them into adulthood. For that reason we recommend that you never given to a child if they’re throwing a tantrum, no matter what.

If you’re home when your child decides to throw a tantrum, he or she should be placed or directed to a place where they can be left alone safely by themselves. Toddlers can be put in their cot or playpen for example. Once there, simply leave the room, shut the door and if possible  don’t go back until they calm down. If you feel that it may be unsafe to leave your child alone then stay with them but don’t respond in any way to their tantrum, even going so far as not making eye contact. Once they have calmed down you can go back and talk with them about their behavior, why it’s not acceptable and what they can do in the future to avoid it.

 

Tantrums that your child throws in a public place can be a little bit more difficult. When this happens you should take them out of the public area as quickly as possible and to a place where you can have some privacy. This could be a public bathroom, and unoccupied hallway or your car in the carpark. Once you’re there you’ll need to just sit and wait until their tantrum is over, doing your best to not react to it at all. Just like at home, when they finally come down you’ll need to talk them about their behavior, let them know that it’s not acceptable and, hopefully, return to whatever it is that you are doing.

Wherever they decide to throw their tantrum, once they have settled down you need to have an immediate talk about their behavior while the memory of it is still fresh in their mind. Avoid getting into the reason that they threw the tantrum but instead concentrate on the behavior itself and why it isn’t appropriate. Educating your child about what they can do the next time they feel angry, even for toddlers, will slowly educate them to the fact that tantrums are unacceptable and that you won’t tolerate them.  Good luck.

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