Most children will have tantrums now and again, some little ones more so than others. Basically, a tantrum is an expression of anger, the only way in which your little one knows how to express anger, until you teach him other methods of dealing with this raging emotion. A tantrum is a parent’s opportunity to teach the child self control and anger management. Tantrums are really not a problem unless you don’t manage to find a way of dealing with them and teaching your little one to recognise and control his feelings and not to express them in an unreasonable manner.
Some children are naturally quite reasonable in their behaviour, learning how to behave and what’s socially acceptable (and what’s not) during the first few years as they get ready for school. However, there are little ones who seem to lose their temper more than most and who struggle to overcome their tempestuous feelings and dealing with their tantrums can be quite a challenge. If you and your little one are experiencing problems learning how to deal with his tantrums, here are a few tips that should help.
Don’t smack or shout – this is counterproductive. Small children learn by copying adults, especially parents and care givers so your own behaviour when dealing with your child is the key to success. If you smack or shout, you are teaching your child to smack or shout. However loud he’s crying or yelling to get his own way, remain calm and speak to him in a firm voice. No need to raise your voice – just keep repeating yourself, slowly and calmly, until he listens. Speak nicely and in a normal voice, you may be surprised at how effective this can be. You may need to persist, but stick with it and you will get through eventually – you just need to have more staying power than your little one does.
Don’t get cross – a tantrum is a type of cross behaviour and getting cross is just demonstrating a different type of tantrum. Your child’s anger with your anger added will just spiral out of control and it will be difficult for you to get the situation back under control.
If you’re in public, maybe out shopping or eating out, and your little one throws a hissy fit, ending up on the floor kicking and screaming – don’t get flustered or embarrassed. Be calm, pick him up and march calmly out and go home. He may kick and scream as you carry him but you are the bigger of the two of you and you’re in charge of the situation. You may need to sacrifice a few trips out or shopping trips but you’ll eventually stop the tantrums and won’t need to resort to this for long.
When your child has calmed down it’s now time to talk to him about the way he’s behaved. Be friendly and loving and calm as you do so – don’t let the anger creep in. Point out to him that while you love him you didn’t like the way he behaved during the tantrum. Talk to him about ways in which you can work together to improve his behaviour and avoid these bouts of temper. Explain to him that temper tantrums will spoil the occasion for everybody and how his behaviour has affected plans – you don’t have any treats in the house because you had to leave the supermarket without going through the checkout. Teach him that his behaviour has consequences then come up with a plan that you can both agree on for how to handle his temper in future. Let him know that it’s okay to be upset about something, but that we need to learn not to behave badly when we are upset.
Persistence and consistency are the most important tools you can use when helping your child get past the temper tantrums stage. Stick with it and eventually you should sort it out together.