There are few things that pack more fury than a child’s temper tantrum. Screaming, crying, kicking, hitting, biting, holding their breath—kids pull out all the stops when they’re trying to express their frustration, anger, jealousy or sadness. When it occurs at home, it’s a hassle. When it occurs in public, it’s a downright nightmare. Here are 6 steps to help you hand your son or daughter’s monster meltdowns and terrible tantrums:
- First, keep your cool. The last thing this situation needs is you having a tantrum of your own. This is easier said than done in those moments when you might be feeling horrified, humiliated or furious, but the energy and attitude you give off will impact your child so do your best to be a calming influence.
- Swiftly (but, again, calmly) remove your child from the situation. If you’re in public, head to a bathroom or your car if you can.
- Wait until the tantrum has stopped before discussing it, as you do not want to give your child the message that if he or she breaks down, you will provide immediate comfort or attention.
- Initiate a conversation about the tantrum. Often times, a child will have a meltdown because he or she does not know how to verbally express the feelings that they’re having. By saying something like, “You must be very frustrated,” and encouraging him to “use your words”, when appropriate, you’re teaching your child the appropriate language of conflict and giving him or her another avenue for getting these feelings out.
- Reward any time your child chooses to use this new language instead of having a temper tantrum. This positive reinforcement will help curb the behavior.
- When the tantrum has ended, make mental notes about the entire situation. What time of day did it occur? How much sleep has your child had? Did your child eat recently? If so, what? Who did your child spend time with earlier that day? What activities was your child participating in? Make this deconstruction a habit, and you might begin to see patterns. Perhaps a certain TV show or sugar infusion causes overstimulation that leads to tantrums. Once you begin to notice this triggers, you can avoid them or nip a tantrum in the bud before it starts.
Remember that most of the time, tantrums occur because your son or daughter simply doesn’t know any other way to handle their feelings. By teaching your child healthier ways to vent their frustration and removing tantrum triggers, you’ll positively shape their behavior and intercept meltdowns in advance of their occurrence. And… don’t forget—there’s an angel in there, somewhere!