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How to Survive the Tantrums of the Terrible Twos

09/08/2013 | Parent Health, Room to Grow | by Catherine Godiva

So, your little darling has just reached the age of tantrums – the Terrible Twos as it’s commonly known by parents and child care professionals.  The first time your little one throws him/herself to the floor, wailing piteously with arms flailing and heels kicking you might be shocked, especially if this is your first child.  Take a deep breath, keep calm and learn how to deal with tantrums so that they affect you as little as possible.

First and foremost, you’re going to need to come up with some strategies for dealing with tantrums and then teach your child how to overcome this type of behaviour.  After all, while tantrums might be (just) acceptable in the under 5s, adult tantrums can be a nightmare to behold.  It’s a parent’s job to guide children as they learn to control their emotions and reactionary behaviour.

One of the main things to remember is just because your child is angry (tantrums generally arise as a result of feelings of anger), it doesn’t mean that you have to be angry too.  In fact, getting angry will just make a bad situation a whole lot worse.  Try to stay as relaxed as possible and speak to your child in a calm voice. 

Above all else, try to keep calm.  You want your little one to achieve a calm state and he/she learns by example – you need to be calm.  Anger is the fuel that will make the situation spiral out of control and get worse – you really do need to try not to be angry during these tantrums.

Don’t shout this will only cause your child to shout back.  You want your little one to stop yelling or crying or shouting.  Try just speaking nicely in a normal voice – you may be surprised at how effective this can be – you may need to persist, but you will get through.

Don’t smack – even if your little one is smacking you.  Smacking doesn’t teach kids to be good, smacking teaches kids to smack.  If you need to gain control of your little one, you can do so firmly, but gently – after all you’re the strongest out of the two of you.

If you’re in a public place, especially if you’re out shopping and your darling throws himself on the floor, kicking and screaming – don’t get embarrassed or flustered.  Just bend down, pick him up (remember you’re the biggest), pop him under your arm and march out calmly.  He can carry on kicking and screaming to no avail – you’re in charge.  I’ve used this one a few times with my own kids, I’m under 5ft and roughly 7 stone, but it’s totally doable.

When you’re little one has eventually calmed down, take the opportunity to discuss his behaviour.   Be friendly and calm about it – point out that you love him but didn’t like the way he behaved.  Then discuss how he can try to manage his behaviour when he feels disappointed or angry.  Explain why tantrum type behaviour is not nice for others, family and onlookers.  Explain how his behaviour affected the rest of the trip/event/day – perhaps you had to leave the shopping and come home.  Help him to see that there are consequences to this type of behaviour.  Then go on to talk about what to do next time he’s upset in this way.  Discuss other reactions that he could have, ways he could behave that needn’t spoil things.  Let him know that feeling angry is okay, but that behaving badly is not.

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