Seven Steps to stopping tantrums
Odds are good that your child has had a tantrum. There are seven steps to consider in order to help prevent your child from throwing a tantrum and stopping the tantrum once it occurs.
Here are seven things to consider when guarding against tantrums. Steps one through three are aimed at prevention. Steps four through seven are aimed at stopping the tantrum from reaching crisis status. They are as follows:
- Consider Your Source: If your child is five years of age or younger, remember that he or she is learning everything from speaking and using vocabulary to controlling and/or explaining emotions and using/understanding bodily functions. If nothing else, having this mindset will help you be more calm and understanding overall.
- Consider the Night Before: Did your child sleep well the night before? If not, tantrums are more likely to occur. Make sure your child is as well-rested as possible so he is not tired during the day. Being tired can lead to frustration in your child and cause him to act out in many ways.
- Consider Your Child's Diet: Did your child just eat a sugar-filled snack? If the answer is yes, head to the nearest outside park!
- Consider Getting Outside: Kids need to be up, out and active. They enjoy being outside and running around. If your child is not getting outside at least 60 minutes per day for active play; you may be asking for tantrums.
- Consider Your Child's Vocabulary. Nothing frustrates a child more than not being able to say exactly what he or she is feeling or wanting. A child only learns by learning and doing. This is a long process but one that cannot be started too early. Talk to your child. Speak slowly when necessary, but always use careful and considerate words. Work with your child as they grow so he or she feels confident and has the skills necessary to say aloud what he wants or thinks.
- Consider 'Taking a Break': Actually say the words, “Take a break!” to your child. Say this in a pleasant manner and allow your child to “take a break” when you notice they are getting overly sensitive and/or frustrated. Taking a break for your child may mean picking out a book to browse while sitting alone in their room for a few minutes until they calm down. The point is to not let them feel as though they are in trouble or being punished simply because they are mad or frustrated. You as the parent or caregiver will know the difference between direct disobedience versus frustration or boredom. Sometimes, children simply need to be separated from their current environment.
- Consider Giving Choices: Sometimes, a simple "this or that" choice is the secret to keeping tantrums under control. By giving your child choices, you let them exercise the control they desire and minimize battles which are so common once kids reach the lovely age of two or three. This "give a choice" tactic will also build into your child the decision-making skills they will find useful and necessary later in life.
Here are a few tips regarding giving your child choices.
a) Create Only Two Choices: You can go wrong as the parent if you give your child too many choices. For instance, if you say to your child, "Pick a DVD from the stack of 50" and he or she picks something he can't watch, that's a problem. Instead, provide two choices of DVDs and say, "You decide: Cinderella or The Princess and the Frog?"
b) Create Only Similar Choices: Notice with the example above, we didn't give an option between taking a bath or watching a movie. The point is clear communication. If you want your child to eat more fruit, you don't give him an option between an orange and chocolate. You would be surprised to hear some of the "choices" often heard at the public playground from well-meaning parents. Let him decide on things that are similar in choice. You want him to eat a healthy snack? The two options can be narrowed to a piece of grape or a blueberry. That's it. Pick two things that are similar and allow him to make the choice.
c) Create Only Choices You Approve: Asking your child, "Do you want to eat a cookie before dinner or after dinner?" is not the best question you to ask. Seriously, we have heard this one by well-meaning parents we mentioned earlier. You already know the answer to that question. Give two options of which either answer works for you. For a snack, you know you don't want your child eating something full of sugar, ask, "Do you want an apple or a banana for a snack?" Don't give the option of letting your kids choose between fast food and a healthy snack - you know they'll always choose the fast food. The point here is to allow your child to have options but with boundaries. This way, they get what is best for them and they also get a sense of freedom in making decisions. Therefore, instilling decision-making skills and confidence in your child for later.
Get more tips at For Fathers.
Written by Ryan Sanders
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photo credit: timlav