You’re shopping with your toddler in a busy department store. He or she has spied a toy that you don’t intend to buy. Soon you find yourself at the center of a gale-force temper tantrum. Everyone’s looking at you, and your face is burning with embarrassment.
Could you have prevented the tantrum? What’s the best response? And why do these emotional meltdowns happen in the first place?
Consider these tantrum tips from Thrive, a Gallatin County organization that promotes healthy parenting:
- Remember, Tantrums are Normal – They typically appear at around 15 months of age and can vary in intensity, duration, and longevity, depending on your child’s temperament.
- Prevention is the Key – Anticipate when your child may get overloaded and frustrated. Help your child by changing your behavior. Is your child too tired or hungry to go to the store with you? Are transitions hard for your child? Is that forbidden object still within your child’s sight and reach?
- Stop the Tantrum Before it Starts – Distracting your child with an appealing object or some nurturing attention may stop the tantrum before it starts. Draw your child’s attention away from a situation that may spark a tantrum.
- Give Choices – You can diffuse a tense situation by offering your child choices. If your child can’t play with the phone, can you offer a toy instead? If it is bedtime, can your child choose what books to bring to bed? Choices give your child some control, but your rules can still stand firm.
- Pick Your Battles – Your limit setting will be most effective and your child will be less confused and overwhelmed if you have only a few, simple rules to follow. What are the most important rules for your child’s well being? What limits are necessary to keep your child safe?
- If a Tantrum Happens, Let Your Child Work it Out – Your role is to keep your child safe during a tantrum, not to stop it. Your child needs to work through the inner turmoil. You may have to hold your child gently, take him or her to a safe place to cry it out, or just wait for your child to be finished.
- Be Ready with a Hug – Your child needs to be reassured of your love after a tantrum. Words and gestures of affection are important.
- Do Not Give in to Your Child’s Demands – Letting your child have what he or she wants to stop a tantrum will only send a message to your child that tantrums get you what you want.
- Check in with Yourself – Never react to your child in anger or frustration. Tantrums can be very hard to manage. You may need a time out for yourself before you respond to your child.
- Ask for Help – The Parent Place staff at Thrive is available to help. There are a lot of resources available to assist you in managing your child’s challenging behavior. Call Thrive at 406-587-4734 or talk to your doctor about your concerns.
For more information about parenting tips, go here.