Temper Tantrums: What is a Parent To Do?
Author: Shannon Miller Lifestyle
As parents most of us have probably experienced our children having a temper tantrum a time or two!
Where has no bearing on when your child will decide to have a temper tantrum; it could be the privacy of your home, or in the middle of the grocery store isle.
Temper tantrums are a natural part of growing up, leaving you little choice but to find a way to parent your way through them. So calm down — there are ways to prevent or handle tantrums without losing your mind. “Two-year-olds are going to have tantrums regardless. They often occur in settings where parents are setting limits and enforcing them,” says Susan Crockenberg, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Vermont.
Dr. C0ckenberg offers the following tips for avoiding your child’s temper tantrums:
- Clearly communicate what you expect your child to do. Use statements, not questions. For example, “It’s time to go inside” will be more effective than “Shall we go inside?”
- Give your child fair warning. Recognize that you might be interrupting an activity that is important to the child. Giving them a five-minute warning is a good thing to do.
- Provide some guidance. Crockenberg suggests explaining why something needs to be done or helping your child get started.
- Give your child some choice. “Allow the child to do something in [his or her] own time,” Crockenberg says. Although this involves some compromise, you will eventually get what you want and the child will still retain some control.
How to respond to temper tantrums:
Tantrums, even if they are infrequent, are inevitable. Try to stay cool and remember these tips for handling a tantrum in progress:
- Don’t engage. You will make it worse if you enter into the fray with threats of what the child will lose if the tantrum continues.
- Try not to respond. As long as your child’s safety isn’t compromised, you should try to pat her and say you will talk again when she is calm. Violent behavior such as biting, kicking, or hitting require intervention, such as a timeout.
- Don’t give in. Generally speaking, you don’t want to reward the tantrum by giving children what they want or offering a reward to stop.
- Own up to your part. Parents do make mistakes. You might “do something, if you had been the least bit thoughtful, that you would never have done, and the child falls apart,” says Crockenberg. If this happens, it’s okay to give in to the child, just as long as this is the exception, not the rule.