Dealing with a tantrum

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies

Yesterday I wrote a post on ways to possibly prevent temper tantrums. Although the tips might come in helpful, there is now a way to field all the tantrums a child is likely to throw. So in case of emergencies, here are a few thoughts on what to do if the precautions fail and you find yourself faced with a screaming child in aisle 4 of the grocery store, not that it's ever happened to me....

You see it coming, but it's too late. The tantrum has begun, and now what do you do? Here are some suggestions, online at HealthAtoZ, that can help you both get through it: Distract your child by calling his attention to something else, such as a new activity, book, or toy. Or interrupt his behavior with a comment like, "Do you see what that kitty is doing?" Changing your location may work. Humor, or making a silly face, can work, too, sometimes. Try to remain calm. Shouting or becoming angry is only likely to make matters worse. The general rule is the more attention you give a tantrum, the more likely it is to happen again. Ignore it, if it's minor. Either stand quietly and wait until it's over, or silently pick him up and leave the scene. This might mean leaving a store or a checkout line and taking your child to your car to calm down. If you are unable to leave the child alone for safety reasons or because you're in a situation where you can't leave (such as on an airplane), holding her may comfort her Some temper tantrums cannot be ignored. The following behaviors should not be ignored and are not acceptable:

  • Hitting or kicking parents or others
  • Throwing things in a dangerous way
  • Prolonged screaming or yelling
Use a cooling-off period or a "time-out" to remove your child from the situation. For children old enough to understand, a good rule of thumb for a time-out is one minute of time for every year of your child's age. For example, a 3-year-old would get a three-minute time-out. What shouldn't you do during a tantrum?
  • Never punish your child for a temper tantrum. He may start to bottle up his anger or frustration, which can be unhealthy.
  • Try to respond calmly, with understanding.
  • Do not reward your child for stopping a tantrum. Rewards may teach your child that a temper tantrum will help her get her way.
  • Don't try to reason with your child during a tantrum. Logical explanations are unlikely to be heard through the crying and yelling.
  • Don't change your "no" to a "yes" just to get your child to be quiet. Letting your child have his way may solve the problem that instant, but if he learns that throwing a tantrum will help him get his way, he'll surely try it again.
Temper tantrums in public must be the bane of every parent's existence. An award-winning advertisement from the U.K. shows a kid throwing a whopper of a temper tantrum. Was it presented to help a parent manage a temper tantrum? No, it was an advertisement suggesting what might happen if you do not use a condom! Hopefully, none of us has thought that thought...

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.