HOW TO DEAL WITH TEMPER TANTRUM
Don’t Try to Calm Him Down
Ignore him unless he is physically endangering himself or others. By taking away your attention completely, you won’t reinforce his undesirable behaviour. Walk out of the room and set a timer for a few minutes to check on him. If your child starts hitting, kicking, biting, or throwing things during a meltdown, stop him immediately and remove him from the situation. Make it clear that hurting others is not acceptable. Take away a privilege and put him in a timeout if necessary. But save time-outs for harmful behaviour; the more you use them, the less effective they become.
The Louder She Yells, the Softer You Should Speak
Your child will end up matching your volume because, ultimately, she wants to engage with you. Remembering that she’s feeling frustrated or sad may help you stay calm. If she loses it at the movies or another public spot, take her outside. Try offering her the option of sitting on a bench or in the car while she settles down. For some kids, having choices like these can help, especially if a lack of control is the reason behind the outburst.
If she got upset because you told her to pick up a toy, she should still pick up that toy once she’s calm. If she went off the rails because you said she couldn’t have a cookie, then don’t give her the cookie after the tears stop. Once your child follows through and picks up the toy, praise her. After all, that is the positive behaviour you want her to remember and repeat.
Understand Why She Reacts So Strongly
Your preschooler can finally use words to tell you what shSe needs or wants, but that doesn’t mean her tantrums are over. She’s still learning how to handle her emotions, so a minor disagreement can quickly turn into a full-on fit. Because your child also values her growing independence, needing your help can be frustrating. She may lose it when she tries a challenging task, like tying her shoes and realizes she can’t do it alone. While tantrums may start with anger, they are often rooted in sadness. Kids can get lost in how big and unjust a situation seems, and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Give a big hug
“This may feel like the last thing you want to do when your kid is freaking out, but it really can help her settle down,” Levy says. “I’m talking about a big, firm hug, not a super cuddly one. Also, don’t say a word when you do it—again, you’d just be entering into a futile battle of wills. Hugs make kids feel secure and let them know that you care about them, even if you don’t agree with their behaviour.” Cartwright Holecko, of Neenah, Wisconsin, finds that it helps: “Sometimes I think they just need a safe place to get their emotions out.”
Give Your Kid Incentive to Behave
Certain situations are trying for kids. Maybe it’s sitting through a long meal at a restaurant or staying quiet in church. Whatever the hissy hot button, this is the trick: “It’s about recognizing when you’re asking a lot of your child and offering him a little pre-emptive bribe,” Pearson says. “While you’re on your way to the restaurant, for example, tell him, ‘Alex, Mommy is asking you to sit and eat your dinner nicely tonight. I really think you can do it! And if you can behave, then when we get home I’ll let you watch a video.'” For the record, Pearson says this kind of bribery is perfectly fine, as long as it’s done on your terms and ahead of time — not under duress in the middle of a tantrum. If your kid starts to lose it at any point, gently remind them about the “treat” you discussed. “It’s amazing how this can instantly whip them back into shape,” says Pearson.