Monday, June 24, 2013

Mommy Monday: Taming Tantrums Part 1

Taming Tantrums: Top Three Mistakes Parents Makes

Ever feel like you live with a volcano? And at the slightest misstep—for instance, serving a side of green beans for dinner instead of cheese puffs—your child will spew hot ash (or emit glass-breaking screams while kicking the wall hard enough to leave a mark) all over the house?

Whether you’re dealing with toddlers that refuse to wear clothes or teens that won’t do their homework, the emotion-filled explosion known as a tantrum is unmistakable—but it can be escapable. In this two-part series, we’ll take a look at the “why’s” of tantrums, and give you some hope—through strategies you can put to use right away—that your child doesn’t always have to erupt into a meltdown every time you say the word, “no.”
First, let’s look at what parents do to make tantrums worse. Remember, you can’t control another person—but you can control yourself. Avoid these three mistakes, and you’re well on your way to cooling the hot tempers in your own home.
  • Tantrum-Taming Mistake #1: Extinguishing the emotion. In the same way you can’t make Emily understand that no, she can never roller-skate through the house, you also won’t be able to get her to think rationally about whether or not she should be screaming until she turns purple. Your well-meant, “It’s okay, have a drink of water, want to do a puzzle?” and so forth will fall on deaf ears (or get drowned out). It’s because your child is in a state of high emotion, and can’t logically consider your words. What’s more, by providing feedback, you reinforce the bad behavior by letting her know a tantrum is a great way to get your attention.
  • Tantrum-Taming Mistake #2: Putting out the fire. Why do little tykes always choose the line at the bank (or grocery store, or post office, etc) to pitch a fit? Because they know you’re more likely to cave if you have an audience. The truth is, you have to stand firm—even if that means exiting the line and heading to the car for a cool-down. Whenever you give in to a tantrum of any kind after you’ve said no, you let your child know that throwing a fit, and sticking to it, will get him exactly what he wants.
  • Tantrum-Taming Mistake #3: Fueling the flames. If you’re like many parents, your child’s tantrums often make you want to join in. But next time you’re about to lose your temper and embark on a tantrum of your own, don’t. Shouting, spanking and other negative reactions, including punishment, only make a tantrum worse. As a power-seeking behavior, a tantrum seeks to get a rise out of someone, and by showing your child how upset she made you, you provide a payoff. The child will keep tantruming because even negative power is still power. Keeping your cool will help your little one simmer down much faster.

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