Friday, November 5, 2010

Seven Methods for Stopping Tantrums

By Jamell Andrews

Tantrums are among the most difficult things that parents have to deal with. When a child is having a meltdown, it can be so frustrating that it may be tempting for the parent to have a meltdown as well. And if you ask anyone who has raised at least one child, they will likely tell you that dealing with tantrums can be an illogical and confounding challenge. It is not like dealing with an angry adult; kids handle their anger in completely different ways, and they rarely respond well to the types of things that we use to defuse tense situations involving grownups.

Of course, since all children are different, there is no single tantrum solution that works for everyone, but if you try these strategies for stopping tantrums, you should be able to find at least one that works for your child.

  1. Ignoring: There are many things that motivate kids to throw tantrums, but a simple desire for attention is a common motivating factor. By showing your child that you are not swayed by her extreme tactics, you may be able to help cut down on future tantrums. On the other hand, it may just make your child feel more upset in the short term.
  2. Bribery: Rewarding a child for stopping his tantrum is essentially positive reinforcement for bad behavior, so it probably should not be used on a regular basis. However, when you simply need to get your child to calm down as soon as possible, bribery is often the only quick fix that works. It is especially useful for those public tantrums, such as when a child throws a fit over not getting something at the grocery store.
  3. Time out: One of the best ways to teach a child that a behavior is inappropriate is to simply remove her from the situation and not allow her to return until she can calm down. It may help to set aside a safe spot in the house to designate as the official timeout area. Make sure it’s in a spot where you can watch even while the child feels as if she has been separated from the rest of the home.
  4. Distraction: In most cases, a child having in the midst of tantrum is not actually as upset as he appears to be. Often you can reveal the deception behind the tears simply by changing the course of the conversation and making the child focus on something else. For example, if a child is having a tantrum over not being allowed to have a cookie, you might quickly change the subject to talk about something exciting that you have planned for tomorrow, or mention a fun activity that he may be interested in.
  5. Love: Tantrums can occur simply because a child feels momentarily neglected or unloved. Kids, especially very young ones, like to have frequent attention to remind them that they are loved and wanted. When your child is throwing a tantrum, try to soothe the situation by giving him a nice, warm hug and telling him how much you adore him.
  6. Calmness: As grownups, most of us realize that, when arguing with another adult, raising our voices only makes the situation worse. While children are less logical, they do respond positively to calm speech. As the grownups in the situation, it is our job not to get sucked into the tantrum and to remain calmly removed from the upset feelings. By staying calm and speaking in a soft voice, you will encourage your child to settle down, and you will also set a positive example for how to behave.
  7. Leave: Children need to learn as soon as possible that acting up in public is not acceptable. One of the most efficient ways to teach them this to leave any time they throw a tantrum in a public place. After you do this a few times, they’ll learn that throwing a tantrum is not the way to get what they want. Plus, leaving can serve as a distraction and help get the child’s mind on something else.

About Jamell: Jamell Andrews authors many insightful articles on parents and childern. She is a firm believer in the many uses of natural remedies for colic.

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