How To Prevent or Diffuse Tantrums
The key to preventing or diffusing tantrums is to understand your child's tantrum triggers, and understand what it feels like to be little and out of control. Here are some suggestions:
Avoid tantrum-provoking situations. Use the candy-free check-out aisle at the supermarket.
Toy shop when you can leave your child at home — and definitely don't take your child to the store or any other possibly challenging place when they are tired or hungry. (Bring snacks whenever you go out if hunger is a trigger for your child). At home, keep things your child wants but can't have out of sight. When it comes to tantrums, a little advance planning goes a long way.
Spend positive time together. Dedicate some time every day to snuggling and playing with your child. (Reading together is a great way to snuggle!) Even if it doesn't totally prevent tantrums, it is good for your child—and for your relationship with her.
Let your child feel in control. Obviously, you are in charge. But when you can, give your child choices. Instead of saying "Time to get dressed!" say "Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the green one?" Instead of "Time to go to bed!" try "Which book shall we read before bed — this one, or that one?" (Limiting the choices to two is generally best.) When you do that, your child is less likely to feel bossed around—and is therefore less likely to struggle with you.
Use distraction. It's amazing how well this can work, if you do it at the first sign of trouble. Before your child gets really upset about not being able to play with a particular toy, swoop in with a different one and make a big deal out of it ("Wow, look at this truck! It makes noises and everything!"). Quickly suggest playing on the slide when someone gets to the last swing before you. Sometimes doing something really unexpected, such as breaking into song, or doing the Chicken Dance, does the trick. Take advantage of your child's short attention span.
If all else fails and your child explodes into a tantrum, don't despair. Here's how to survive it:
Take a deep breath. If you get upset, it's only going to make things worse.
Resist the temptation to give in. Giving your child what she wants may quiet things down right then, but teaching your child that tantrums work is not the way to get them to stop.
Let your child scream it out, in a safe place. That may mean leaving the nearly full grocery cart in the store and going home. If your child is older, send him to his room; let him know that he can come out as soon as he calms down.
Give hugs when he's done. It can be scary for a child to get that upset — and they usually know that you're not happy with them. Let him know that you love him, and that you are proud of him for stopping.
While tantrums are usually nothing to worry about, and will go away as your child gets older, it's important to call your child's doctor for help if:
The tantrums are getting more frequent, or severe
Your child is in mid- to late- elementary school and still having tantrums
Your child hurts herself or others during the tantrum
You have any concerns about your child's development
You are very upset by the tantrums, especially if you feel like you might hurt your child
Don't feel ashamed — the best thing you can do is ask for help!
Harvard Medical ...
Murphy Geer Toerner
- Murphy's Devotions
- Austin TX and Baton Rouge, LA, United States
- I enjoy helping people. I am an encourager and I can see the good in others. I want people to understand what it means to be an authentic Christian and not just a religious "nut." I believe if Christians lived and loved others as Jesus lived and loved others, we would experience more of heaven on earth than hell on earth. These thoughts and writings are intended to encourage you to be who God originally designed you to be. They are also intended to challenge you and make you think. Also, I want you to know that I'm praying for you every day. Blessings, Murphy Blessings to you, Murphy