Struggling with Temper Tantrums?
A client came back recently to advise that my advice worked on his toddlers temper tantrums which had been challenging to handle. When I asked what in particular had worked, this is what he said:
- Catch it earlier – before it builds up
- Distract the toddler
- Redirect the toddler’s attention to something else to absorb their interest
- Use humor
- Come down to the toddlers eye level
- Use the child’s name
- Make eye contact with the child
- Be Kind, Firm but not Cross
- Set a boundary ; “I cannot talk with you till you calm down; when you calm down I can talk with you”
- Stay Calm and you will help calm things down
Understanding Tantrums helps
A tantrum is about Frustration and Attention seeking – in other words, there is a need to express frustration (limited language) and perhaps also a need to get noticed.
Reward Tantrum with Attention means you simply get more Tantrums
Therefore during the tantrum acknowledge the child’s feeling ‘I see you are upset’ but set the boundary ‘I cannot deal with this until you calm down’, said kindly and quietly to the child. The child may have the hump, but will quickly get over and as soon as you see it dissipating, give attention.
Catch Your Child Being Good
Positive Parenting is a term bandied about for a reason – it works! The more you notice what you child has done well and rewarded it with your attention, the more good the child will do. All behaviour re reinforces. Therefore, if I notice from dawn to dusk what my child has not done ‘get up, eat your breakfast, get dressed, wash your teeth, pack you lunch, get your schoolbag, put your coat on! the child feels Bad, Bad, Bad!
Notice what your Child has done Right
If instead, I say, I notice you have one sock on, well done! That is a very responsible thing to do and that really helps me. Allowing enough time in the morning is crucial in staying calm and positive – to which your toddler responds well. You being rushed, irritable and impatient simply makes the situation worse. Tell them what they are doing right, keep a bit of fun it in ‘will we have a time trial for getting dressed?’ ‘As soon as you are ready, we will get you your star, I think you deserve two stars today you are so good! PS Never ever take a star away..
Use Choices instead of Punishment
Punishment is counter productive and toddlers learn nothing from it. Use choices instead ‘You can choose to tidy the toys and watch tv after dinner, or you can choose not to tidy the toys and choose not to watch tv later, which do you choose? (you may need help them tidy toys and keep your expectations realistic!)
No Time out
It is only the parent needs to sit on the stairs – the child simply needs Time into the feeling that underlies the behaviour, from a kind and caring parent. Parenting is tough, tough, tough so that why like the oxygen mask in the airplane you need to take special care of yourself, so you can offer them the time and kindness they need.
More Positive Attention means less Tantrums
HOWEVER! The more attention you give (at all other times, the less attention a child will seek). Therefore, if they are playing happily – sit for a moment and reward any good behaviour with positive attention. Although they are young, they know that a scream from downstairs, will have you flying down the stairs – so the message they get it ‘no one notices when I am good, but when I annoy my sister/brother I get immediate attention!