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Managing Tantrums

You are out shopping and your child wants a Paw Petrol toy. You reject him as he has a few of it at home. He goes into a tantrum fit and refuses to leave the mall.

It is meal time and your child wants to watch the cartoon that is on screen. You tell him nicely that it is meal time and not television time. Not getting what he wants, your child throws a big tantrum. 

These are common scenarios in most household, and even in schools. According to Watson and Gebhardt (2010), first tantrums happens from 12-15 months and peaks at 18-36 months of a child’s life.

So what can we do?

Tip #1: 1.. 2… 3… Breathe!
Yes, mummies and daddies, the first thing is to BREATHE and calm yourself down. As shared by Lyness (2015), ‘Don't complicate the problem with your own frustration or anger’. Take this chance to calm down.
 
Tip #2: Acknowledge Your Child’s Feelings
Your child is going through a lot of emotions at this time. He is trying to cope with disappointment. He is learning how to accept no for an answer. Acknowledge their feelings by verbalizing it,” I know you are feeling sad because you wanted the Paw Petrol toy”. By doing so, you are giving your child a voice. This allows them to know that they can use their voice to express their frustrations rather than throwing a tantrum.

Tip #3: Wait It Out
Allow your child to cry and do whatever he needs (in a safe environment of course). It’s too late to stop your child from crying once it starts. But stay close to your child. It might be embarrassing in public and the pressure may be too great to cope. If it happens in public, you may try to find a place where there are fewer people and wait it out. 

Tip #4: Do Not Give In
Let your child know that throwing a tantrum will not get what he wants. Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. Explain why you had to make certain decisions. Pincus (2017) explains that ‘If you give in to your child’s requests when he has an outburst, it will set up a pattern where you will create more tantrums. In effect, you’ve taught your child that the best way to get what he wants is to scream, yell and be out of control.’

Tip #5: Give a Hug
Once your child has calmed down, speak to your child again. Talk about the situation. For example, “Thank you for calming down. Now we are ready to talk. I am sorry that we cannot get the Paw Petrol toy because you have one at home. Let me give you a hug. Now, would you like to hold my right or left hand as we head home?” Expressing affection helps the child to understand that it is the behavior that is undesirable, and you are managing the behavior but still love him.
Consistency is key to establishing desired behaviors. While we know this is not something easy to manage, keeping in mind a few of these handy tips might just make parenting smoother. 

Reference
  • Lyness, D. (Ed.). (2015). Temper Tantrums. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/tantrums.html# 
  • Watson, T. S., Watson, T., Gebhardt, S. (2010). Temper tantrums: Guidelines for parents and teachers. National Association of School Psychologist. 
  • CorporateName=Raising Children Network (RCN); jurisdiction=Commonwealth of Australia; sector=non-government. (n.d.). Tantrums: why they happen and how to respond. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/temper_tantrums.html
  • Pincus, D. (n.d.). How To Deal with Child Temper Tantrums. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/dealing-with-child-temper-tantrums-from-toddler-to-pre-teen/