Page name: Taming temper tantrums [Logged in view] [RSS]
2007-07-01 01:18:07
Last author: Firenze
Owner: threelade
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Taming temper tantrums

Welcome to Taming temper tantrums!

You stand there in shock, ear piercing shrieks fill the air with tones designed to shatter glass and bend metal. The crowd gathers around and the muttering begins. Is he ok? Is he hurt? Oh my God, I heard him from across the store. You look down at your angle, your baby, your little darling and think, “I want to run away and join a circus” but you know deep in your heart that you can’t. Somehow you as the parent must deal with this angle turned demon, it is your job, and it is your responsibility. Congratulations, you have experienced your first full blown temper tantrum.

As you have just seen, an angry child is not a pretty sight. Indeed, it can be almost frightening to an observer. Yet an occasional tantrum is perfectly normal during the preschool years. These outbursts are more a matter of immaturity than naughtiness and as the person responsible for this child you need to know how to handle temper tantrums when they occur and how to prevent future tantrums.

Teacher: [threelade]





Brief Outline:

1. What Are Temper Tantrums And Why Do Kids Have Them?
2. How to Handle a Tantrum
3. The Aftermath
4. Avoiding Future Tantrums


What Are Temper Tantrums And Why Do Kids Have Them?

A temper tantrum can be anything from crying, screaming, kicking, holding breath, hitting, whining, throwing things, refusing to do things and any combination of the above. Children are endlessly creative in ways to express frustrations, and anger. They don’t have the inhabitations and control that adults have so time and place have no meaning for them. Tantrums are most common in children between the ages of 1 to 3 but can occur in older children and even in adults. Some children may experience regular tantrums, and other children may not have many at all. Temperaments vary greatly in everyone so of course some kids are more prone to tantrums than others.

Imagine how it feels when you're determined to do something on your computer and you can’t because you don’t have the knowledge. It's pretty frustrating - do you swear, walk away, and slam the door on your way out? That's the adult version of a tantrum. Toddlers are also trying to master the world and when they aren't able to accomplish a task, they use the only tools at their disposal for venting frustration - a tantrum.

There are several basic causes of tantrums that are familiar to parents everywhere: The child is tired, hungry or uncomfortable, the child wants attention from someone or perhaps something is not working the way they want it to, (that round peg just won’t go into the square hole no matter how hard they try.) Toddlers also are developing an increasing need for autonomy and want more control over their environment; they struggle for independence – sometimes more than they are capable of handling. This creates the perfect condition for power struggles between parent and child and thus the stage is set for the tantrum.

As the child learns to communicate and develop problem solving skills tantrums tend to become less and by the time children reach the school age they may have almost disappeared only to make a comeback when the child tries to deal with the complex social situations that school presents.

Learning to get along with friends, work as part of a team, or compete in a sport requires skills that many older kids haven't fully developed yet. Kids who have limited problem-solving skills or difficulty expressing themselves with words are likely to have temper tantrums or fits of anger. Also, older kids are more likely to use tantrums to get their way if they've learned that this behavior works..


How to Handle a Tantrum

Keep cool. Don't complicate the problem with your own frustration. Kids can sense when parents are becoming frustrated or upset and this can just make your child's frustration worse, and you may have a more exaggerated tantrum on your hands. Instead, take deep breaths and try to think clearly.

Your child relies on you to be the example. Hitting and spanking does not help; physical tactics send the message that using force and physical punishment is OK. Instead, have enough self-control for both of you.

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, or is hurt you may just need to provide comfort and sympathy to stop the tantrum.

If the tantrum is because the child is refused something, don’t give in. Toddlers don’t have very good reasoning skills, so you aren't likely to get far with 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, otherwise he may feel abandoned on top of all of the other uncontrollable emotions.

If your child is in danger of hurting himself or herself or others during a tantrum, take your child to a quiet, safe, place to calm down. This also applies to tantrums in public places.

Holding an "out of control" child calmly is sometimes necessary to keep him from hurting himself or someone else. You might also say something like: "I know you are angry right now, and I am going to hold you until you calm down. I won't let you hurt me or anyone else." Often this approach can be comforting to a child. Children don't like to be out of control. It scares them. An adult who is able to take charge of the situation and remain calm and in control can be very reassuring.

Once kids are school age, it's appropriate to send them to their rooms to cool off. Rather than setting a specific time limit, you can tell your child that he or she must stay in the room until your child has regained control. The former option is empowering; your child can affect the outcome by his or her own actions, thereby gaining a sense of control that was lost during the tantrum.

Sometimes you can distract a younger child from his tantrum by offering him something else to do in place of whatever it was that caused the outburst of anger. This works better with toddlers.

Wait till the child has calmed down before you try to talk to him. Tantrums really scare most kids. Often, they are not sure why they feel so angry and feel rather shaken when it is all over. They need to know that you disapprove of their behavior, but that you still love them so take time after the tantrum to reassure them that your love is unconditional.


The Aftermath

When the tantrum is over and the child calms down, it is time to begin rebuilding. Wash the child's face and offer a drink of water or juice. Reaffirm that there is nothing wrong or bad about feeling angry. Then discuss what caused the outburst and how to resolve that specific issue. Once parents and children have gotten to the root of the problem, they can brainstorm together ways to express anger more productively in the future.

If your child has a tantrum in front of relatives, friends, or at the supermarket—in other words, with an audience who may be judging you—handling a tantrum may seem harder for you. But try to think about your priorities. Are you raising your child to please your neighbors or to help the child be happy and emotionally healthy? Regardless of your "audience," use the same basic techniques outlined above. Pick the child up, take him or her to as secluded a spot as possible, and simply stay with the child until the tantrum subsides.


Avoiding Future Tantrums

The best way to deal with temper tantrums is to avoid them in the first place, whenever possible. Here are some strategies that may help.

Older children can learn to recognize when they are feeling upset or frustrated and learn acceptable ways to deal with their anger. Teaching them to talk over problems or take time away from frustrating situations are good ways to avoid tantrums. Giving them the encouragement and being sympathetic to their problems will also head off a lot of anger before it can explode into a tantrum.

• Make sure your child isn't acting up simply because he or she isn't getting enough attention. To a child, negative attention is better than no attention at all. Try to establish a habit of rewarding good behavior. A quick hug and a “You’re being so good today” can work wonders.
• Give your child some control over little things. This may fulfill the need for independence and can ward off tantrums. One way is to match up outfits complete with underclothes and socks and hang them up in your child’s closet. He can pick his outfit for the day without your help. Ask him if he wants to take a bath first or brush his teeth first, does he want apple or orange juice or milk? Be careful with this though, don’t ask your child if he wants a nap unless you are prepared to honor his “NO” Small things that increase a child’s independence and confidence will also decrease his frustration levels.
• Keep off-limits objects out of sight and out of reach, which will 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 child outside or inside or move to a different room.
• Set your child up for success by keeping his activities, toys and games age appropriate.
• Set up and maintain a regular routine. Predictable activities help stem uncertainties. Regular naps and meal times are very important.
• 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 child is tired, it's not the best time to go grocery shopping or try to squeeze in one more errand.
• Give some sort of advanced warning when a change of activity is about to happen. “Just one more time down the slide then we have to go in.” or “After you finish that its time for a bath”.

If a safety issue is involved, and the toddler repeats the forbidden behavior after being told to stop, use a time-out or hold him or her firmly for several minutes. Be consistent. The child must understand that you are inflexible on safety issues.


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