Tips for tackling tantrums
Every child will have a tantrum and every parent knows what a nightmare it is when it happens. You end up potentially saying and doing things you wouldn’t if you were feeling calmer and perhaps more in control of the situation. There are times when I think most mums wished the ground would swallow them up, myself included, as their child chooses to tantrum in the most public of places.
This tip to help tackle tantrums is about YOU, which might seem counter-intuitive. However, you are your child’s biggest role model, so if you shout and stamp your feet to get your own way then guess what so will your child. You may not even be aware that you are doing it.
Let us look at the way you respond to the tantrum, if you come from a calmer place then changes will take place, as you are role modelling to your child an alternative.
Here are some ideas to help you remain calmer when dealing with a tantrum:
Are there warning signs before your child goes into a full-on tantrum? What are they? Can you intercept, bring humour to the situation, divert attention?
When you feel a tantrum is looming, breathe and count to 10. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth for 4 breaths, potentially cursing with every breath to help you feel better about what is going on in front of you.
Do you have a tantrum plan? What can you think through in times of peace so when all is hitting off you know what your way forward is.
Remember the child you love is in there, even if at that moment they are disguising themselves as a wild child.
Your child wants your attention, craves it. They want to be noticed and will adjust their behaviour in order that you see them. Ideally, they want to the attention to be good, through cuddles, praise, smiles and positive body language. Although to a child, any attention is good attention, so even if they are being told off, or noticed for the wrong reasons, this attention is better than no attention at all. Is your radar set to only notice what you kids are not doing right?
How can you give your kids the right sort of attention:
Where it is safe and appropriate to do so, can you ignore the ‘bad’ behaviour? How can you acknowledge their good behaviour? Does your child respond better to praise? A hug? Talking about what you can see that they did well and the effort it took?
Does your child know what your boundaries are? Are they clear? Are they positive? Have you discussed them with your kids, or are they expected to know them via the art of mind reading?
Are you consistent in your approach? Are your kids getting mixed messages between you and your partner? Consistency is hard, but the reward is greater!
Having a tantrum at home is one thing, but if your child chooses a more public spot, you can immediately feel that everyone is judging your parenting. I can assure that most mums are not! There will be sympathy, empathy and a whole heap of ‘we are in this together’ or ‘been there done that’ coming your way.
Can you identify the ‘tantrum hotspots’, does your child have a spot, place, time of day that there are emotions are more fragile and you can predict when one is more likely to happen? Supermarket? Getting out of the house in the morning? Bedtime? Getting dressed?
When you can work out when tantrums are taking place you are in a better position to build in systems, routines and coping strategies to help you all manage these transitions and situations better.
This is possibly my favourite tip. When your child is having a tantrum, melting down, expressing themselves with all their might, and you respond, are you telling them what you ‘don’t’ want them to do or what you ‘do’ want them to do?
So often I hear parents say, ‘don’t do this, don’t do that’ instead of the alternative which is what you really want them to do without them having to do the thinking, you are planting the seeds for what you would rather see e.g. in place of ‘don’t kick’ you could say ‘gentle feet please’ ‘how can your feet show kindness’ or simply ‘feet are for kicking balls, not people’.
Try it today, go in with a calm voice and tell your child what to do instead of what not to do.
Tell yourself ‘I can handle this’ and if you can’t book in for a session with me!
Written by Anisa Lewis – Coach and Director of Parenting Success Yorkshire