Kelly Kilpatrick recently approached me about writing a guest post here at Momopoly on a suitable topic for my readers. I know many of my regular visitors have young children, so tips on how to cope with tantrums is hopefully something many of you will find useful. (For those of you have teenagers, I’m certainly no expert yet on older kids, but I suspect that many of these strategies apply to them as well. Just like toddlers older kids want to be heard. They need boundaries. They need understanding, and they want parents who are in control.)
I have to admit that I was growing quite smug when my first child passed through her entire second year without so much as one fist-throwing fit. Terrible Twos? Not with my Madeline.
That all changed big-time when she turned 3. My shy girl who, I believe resisted tantrums so as to not draw attention to herself, came into her own, busted out of her shell, and let Mom know when she was not happy. This all took me by surprise and everything I’d read about coping with tantrums flew out the window. There were days when we were both throwing fits and quite agitated.
I knew something had to change, so I went back and reviewed tantrum-diffusing tips from some of my favorite parenting experts (Elizbeth Pantley comes to mind first). But above all, I took a deep breath and followed my mom gut. I empathized. I tried hugging. That often worked. If it didn’t settle her down, I sometimes just ignored her hysterics all the while I’d find myself silently repeating the words of St. Francis: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” Before I knew it my daughter, who has amazing self-control and has the ability to turn off the most heightened emotions in an instant, was back to her calm, happy self.
Now that I have a toddler on my hands who hasn’t yet thrown a real tantrum, I know better than to think I’ve got the perfect, controlled child on my hands. I’m ready to deal with any outbursts that come with my way with patience, kindness, and the resolve to not give in no matter how tempting.
But enough from me.
Here’s Kelly’s post, which served as a good refresher course for me:
You’d think it was easy, but parenting is arguably the toughest job in the world. Of course, it’s a joy giving birth to a child of your own flesh and blood, but the difficult days every now and then make parents want to tear their hair out in frustration. The worst are the temper tantrums when your child is between 2 and 7 – the age when they don’t understand reason and want their every whim and fancy satisfied.
Any parent knows that it’s almost impossible to reason with a child who’s bent on throwing a tantrum; they lie on their stomachs and beat the floor with their little fists; they run to and fro not knowing where they’re going; they go sit in a corner and sulk for hours together; or they throw things and shout at people. The methods may be different but the end result is the same – you don’t know what to do.
Here are a few tips that help in dealing with children who act up:
• Don’t lose your temper. You’re an adult who’s supposed to be more in control over your emotions, so don’t lose your temper and strike the child or shout at him or her. You’ll only make the situation worse than it is.
• Don’t lose control. Don’t react blindly to the situation and say things that come to mind or threaten your child with dire consequences if they don’t do as they’re told.
• Don’t punish. Making them undergo a punishment when they’re already upset and angry is the worst thing you can do.
• Wait it out. The best thing to do when your child is having a temper tantrum is to wait it out. If you ignore them, they soon lose steam and start behaving normally.
• Don’t give in. After all the angst and stress, if you give in to your child’s wish, you diminish your authority and pave the way for more temper tantrums in the future. Your child knows that all they need to do to get their way is to throw a tantrum.
• Understand. If your child throws a tantrum once too often, try and get to the bottom of the bouts of temper rather than analyzing just the most obvious reason. Your child may be feeling insecure, resentful or scared about something else.
• Talk to them. Children understand, even when they cannot talk. So talk to them when they’re calmer and explain that what they did was wrong.
At the end of the day, all that matters is that you treat your child with care and concern and don’t approach the problem like a disciplinary hearing. Children are natural tantrum throwers, and it’s up to you as a parent to teach them right from wrong as they grow.
This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of a college for licensed practical nurse. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 [at] gmail [dot] com