Tantrums are part and parcel of a child’s growing up process and they occur not because children don’t want to manage their frustrations properly, but because they haven’t figured out how to yet. They may be hungry, or tired, or uncomfortable with something in particular. As parents, how do we manage our children’s tantrums? Here are three ways you can try.
- GIVE YOUR CHILD SPACE
Children often react to triggers that result in outbursts of tantrums, which is an inevitable part of their emotional development. When these tantrums happen, tackling them head on might prove counter-productive. Instead of admonishing your child immediately, give her a firm hug, and then let her know that you will be giving her some space to cool off by herself. Remember to keep an eye on how she’s coping, and let her release her anger or frustrations by herself.
- DISTRACT YOUR CHILD
As you would have noticed, children tend to have much shorter attention spans than adults. The next time you sense your child is about to throw another fit, remember this acronym: D&D. Divert and distract. Draw his attention to something else. For instance, the second you sense an impending tantrum because you refused to buy that candy at the supermarket, make a swift change that goes something like this “We need some yoghurt! Do you want to help me choose the flavours?” Remember to express enthusiasm so that your excitement can hook them on to the next thing that much faster.
- REWARD THEM WHEN THEY BEHAVE
As controversial as this sounds, it’s actually acceptable to reward purposefully for good behaviour as long as executed properly. Whether it’s sitting through a long dinner at a restaurant or staying still long enough for the barber to cut his hair, certain situations are more trying for children than others. As parents, it is wise to recognise when our children need a little encouragement, even if it’s in the form of a pre-emptive reward sometimes. For example, on the way to the barber, let your child know that he’ll be rewarded with an ice cream if he sits still during the haircut and behave. Thereafter, if he starts to get restless and anxious, gently remind him about the treat you discussed earlier. Remember, try not to dangle these treats in the middle of a tantrum under duress. Do it on your own terms and ahead of time, so you retain your authority as a parent.
At the end of the day, most children seem to just snap out of their tantrums as quickly and incomprehensibly as they started it in the first place. Once the tantrum has subsided, parents are advised not to dwell on the outburst as it might make them feel guilty, or cause the tantrum to pick up steam again.
Do talk about the tantrum with your child hours after it has ended. Ask him to share with you what triggered his outburst, and facilitate him in thinking about future problem-solving strategies.
This article is contributed by MindChamps Singapore. ©2017 MindChamps Singapore. All rights reserved.
- How to Tame a Bubba at the Dinner Table (bubbamama.com)