07 May 2009

Q&A: Temper Tantrums

Q: My four year old has been exercising her independence lately, and that means TANTRUMS! I mean, uncontrollable, yelling, screaming, crying tantrums. I am at a loss. Any advice?

A: Well, first of all let me emphasize that you are not alone!! Tantrums are just a part of childhood. It's hard when you're little to not get your own way. Think about it...someone else tells you where you go, what you do, what time you have to go to bed, what you can or can't eat, and on and on. That's got to be insanely frustrating! I do have a few tips, however, to at least minimize the intensity of the tantrums (hopefully):

1. Don't give in to them!! If your kid throws a fit, and that ends in getting what she wants, she will keep throwing fits. Bottom line. Stick to your guns. This means not giving rules about things that don't matter, or things that are not worth sticking to your guns about.
mom: no you can't wear purple socks today
child: why not? I love my purple socks!
mom: because they don't match
child: I don't care! They are comfy!!
mom: no. get your white socks.

child proceeds to scream and kick and throw a tantrum.
mom decides purple socks are not worth it and gives in.
child learns that throwing tantrums=getting what she wants.

This situation could have been avoided if mom had not made a rule about purple socks, unless it was really important. But I'd venture to say that if it were really important, mom wouldn't have budged in light of a little tantrum. (Please mom can I run in the busy street? Please?!?! WAAAAHHOHHHHHH!! Okay, thanks mom!! Get it?)

2. Be consistent. If you give in to 1 in every 3 tantrums, your child will keep throwing them. The end.

3. Set expectations. Tell your kids: We are going in the grocery store now. We are not going to get a treat at the check out line. But if you obey mom, we'll have a popsicle when we get home, ok? This way when you're in line and your kid starts to whine for some candy, you can remind them about the deal you made. "Remember in the car when I said we're not getting a treat today? We're almost done and we can go home and have a popsicle."

(side note: as I was writing that I accidentally left the "r" out of the word "treat." hahaha. Remember that we're not getting a teat today?? hahahahaha.)

4. Validate your kid's emotions. Say, "I know you're frustrated that you can't have a sucker right now, that must be frustrating. I'm sorry. But I don't want you to get a tummy ache. Let's eat dinner really quickly so you can have a sucker, ok?" This doesn't always work, but you would be surprised at how much just acknowledging your kid's feelings can diffuse a situation. Sometimes they just need to be heard.

5. Understand that kids are kids. And they will throw tantrums. And there's no magic formula, or perfect parenting technique that will completely eliminate tantrums from your life. Let's face it, as adults we still throw tantrums! haha.

6. Oh, and my final piece of advice about how to avoid tantrums? DO THIS:


Julia Kelly said...

OK, that video totally caught me by surprise at the end! haha.

And yes, I agree with everything you said about tantrums. Set realistic rules, relay those rules to your kids...and do your part and follow through if your child doesn't follow whatever rules you set. Like I said...make it a rule worth fighting for. In the long run does it really matter that your child is wearing rain boots and a princess dress to the grocery store (or purple socks rather then the white socks) ?

I could go on and on about this topic! haha.

Sarah said...

Woah, what a great laugh!!! I am dying right now! I totally had one of those moments today; it was all about a bike. Sheesh, the nerve of a two-year-old! :)

The Stokes Family said...

thanks for that -- hahahahaha

Francesca said...

That video had me laughing for minutes! haha. Thanks for the great advice, too!

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