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Taming Tantrums

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Old School vs. New School Parenting

Did Mama know best? I don’t ever remember falling out on a supermarket floor. Either I never did, or the “something to cry for” I got afterward permanently erased it from my memory. Either way it worked. Now as a twenty-first century parent, it’s all about time-outs and explaining consequences. Will it work? Check out these expert tips for taming tantrums, with a little bit of mama’s wisdom thrown in, to create your own parenting plan.
 


      

Taming Tantrums
Old School vs. New School Parenting
by Kimberly Seals Allers
temper_tantrumslg.jpg

Did Mama know best? I don’t ever remember falling out on a supermarket floor. Either I never did, or the “something to cry for” I got afterward permanently erased it from my memory. Either way it worked. Now as a twenty-first century parent, it’s all about time-outs and explaining consequences. Will it work? Check out these expert tips for taming tantrums, with a little bit of mama’s wisdom thrown in, to create your own parenting plan.
Were
we even allowed to have tantrums as a kid? Puh-leeze. If your
old-school mom was anything like my old-school mom, as soon as she gave
me the “look,” (yeah, you know the one) I would straighten up with a
quickness. Falling out on the supermarket floor was not even an option.
But what are we to do as twenty-first century parents, not trying to
run our households on the same fear factor (i.e. belt factor) that
marked our childhoods.

 
As
a new generation parent who thinks some of the old-school ideologies
need to stick around, finding that balance between the two is your job
as the parent. You’ve have a good chance to test your mettle when your
beloved little one starts testing his limits and expressing himself. 
Let’s face it, during the kicking-and-screaming chaos of the moment,
tantrums can be downright frustrating. But new school experts say that
instead of looking at them as catastrophes, treat tantrums as
“opportunities for education.”
 
O.K., but whose education? Well, you first.
 
Why Do Kids Have Tantrums?
Kids’ temperaments vary dramatically — so some kids may experience
regular tantrums, whereas others have them rarely. They’re a normal
part of development and don’t have to be seen as something negative.
Unlike adults, kids don’t have the same inhibitions or control.
Toddlers are trying to master their world and when they aren’t able to
accomplish a task, they turn to one of the only tools at their disposal
for venting frustration — a tantrum.
 
Several basic causes of tantrums are pretty basic:
The child is seeking attention or is tired, hungry, or uncomfortable.
In addition, tantrums are often the result of kids’ frustration with
the world — they can’t get something (for example, an object or a
parent) to do what they want. Frustration is an unavoidable part of
their lives as they learn how people, objects, and their own bodies
work.
 
Tantrums
are common during the second year of life, a time when children are
acquiring language. Toddlers generally understand more than they can
express. Imagine not being able to communicate your needs to someone —
a frustrating experience that may precipitate a tantrum. As language
skills improve, tantrums tend to decrease.
 
Toddlers
are also faced with is an increasing need for autonomy. They want a
sense of independence and control over the environment — more than they
may be capable of handling. This creates the perfect condition for
power struggles as a child thinks "I can do it myself" or "I want it,
give it to me." When kids discover that they can’t do it and can’t have
everything they want, the stage is set (once again) for a tantrum.
 
Avoiding Tantrums Altogether
The best way to deal with temper tantrums is to avoid them in the first
place, whenever possible. Here are some expert strategies that may help:
  • Make
    sure your child isn’t acting up simply because he or she isn’t getting
    enough attention. To a child, negative attention (a parent’s response
    to a tantrum) is better than no attention at all. Try to establish a
    habit of catching your child being good ("time in"), which means
    rewarding your little one with attention for positive behavior.
  • Try
    to give toddlers some control over little things. This may fulfill the
    need for independence and ward off tantrums. Offer minor choices such
    as "Do you want orange juice or apple juice?" or "Do you want to brush
    your teeth before or after taking a bath?" This way, you aren’t asking
    "Do you want to brush your teeth now?" — which inevitably will be
    answered "no."
  • Keep
    off-limits objects out of sight and out of reach to make struggles less
    likely to develop over them. Obviously, this isn’t always possible,
    especially outside of the home where the environment can’t be
    controlled.
  • Distract
    your child. Take advantage of your little one’s short attention span by
    offering a replacement for the coveted object or beginning a new
    activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one. Or simply change
    the environment. Take your toddler outside or inside or move to a
    different room.
  • Set
    the stage for success when kids are playing or trying to master a new
    task. Offer age-appropriate toys and games. Also, start with something
    simple before moving on to more challenging tasks.
  • Consider
    the request carefully when your child wants something. Is it
    outrageous? Maybe it isn’t. Choose your battles; accommodate when you
    can.
  • Know
    your child’s limits. If you know your toddler is tired, it’s not the
    best time to go grocery shopping or try to squeeze in one more errand.

If a safety issue is involved and a toddler repeats the forbidden
behavior after being told to stop, use a time-out or hold the
child firmly for several minutes. Be consistent. Kids must understand
that you are inflexible on safety issues.
 
Tantrum Tactics
The most important thing to keep in mind when you’re faced with a child
in the throes of a tantrum, no matter what the cause, is simple and
crucial: Keep your cool.
 
Don’t
complicate the problem with your own frustration. This is not the time
to start shouting and threatening the child. Kids can sense when
parents are becoming frustrated. This can just make their frustration
worse, and you may have a more exaggerated tantrum on your hands.
Instead, take deep breaths, call on the Lord if you have to, and try to
think clearly.
 
First,
try to understand what’s going on. Tantrums should be handled
differently depending on the cause. Try to understand where your child
is coming from. For example, if your little one has just had a great
disappointment, you may need to provide comfort.
 
It’s
a different situation when the tantrum stems from a child’s being
refused something. Toddlers have fairly basic reasoning skills, so you
aren’t likely to get far with in-depth explanations. Ignoring the
outburst is one way to handle it — if the tantrum poses no threat to
your child or others. Continue your activities, paying no attention to
your child but remaining within sight. This is my favorite move. When
your child sees her tantrum has no power over you to either frustrate
you or give in to her desires, she will soon get the point that this
tantrum thing is a waste of time. The new school experts advise to not
leave your little one alone, though, otherwise he or she may feel
abandoned on top of all of the other uncontrollable emotions.
 
Kids
who are in danger of hurting themselves or others during a tantrum
should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down. This also applies
to tantrums in public places the experts say. Again, I have no
recollection of such. But I do know, nobody wants to be that parent
wrestling their child in the produce aisle.
 
After the Storm
If your child is having a hard time stopping a tantrum, it might help to say to say, "I’ll help you settle down now."
 
But
do not reward your child after a tantrum by giving in. This will only
prove to your little one that the tantrum was effective. Instead,
verbally praise a child for regaining control.
 
Also,
kids may be especially vulnerable after a tantrum when they know
they’ve been less than adorable. Now is the time for a hug and
reassurance that your child is loved, no matter what.
 
When to Call the Doctor
You should consult your doctor if:
* You have questions about what you’re doing or what your child is doing.
* You’re uncomfortable with your responses.
* You keep giving in.
* The tantrums arouse a lot of bad feelings.
* The tantrums increase in frequency, intensity, or duration.
* Your child frequently hurts himself or herself or others.
* Your child is destructive.
* Your child displays mood disorders such as negativity, low self-esteem, or extreme dependence.
 

Your
doctor can also check for any physical problems that may be
contributing to the tantrums, although this is not common. These
include hearing or vision problems, a chronic illness, language delays,
or a learning disability.

 






      

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