• News, Parenting

    How to Deal With Your Child’s Tantrum

    Dr. Donna Housman       

    We’ve all been there – you’re in public and suddenly your child becomes uncontrollable. People are staring, store managers are whispering, and flight attendants are being complained to.

    What can be done?

    When people see an unruly child, the general response may be: “That kid is a brat” or “Lazy parents, why don’t they discipline their child?”

    Well, tut-tut to the judgmental masses.

    There is no degree for parenthood, no online certification or weekend crash-course for the soon-to-be parent. Raising children is difficult, and raising healthy, socially aware and well-behaved children is one of the great challenges of life.

    In fact, parenthood is likely the hardest job you’ll ever do, and you don’t even get an intro YouTube video for it. But parenting strategies can help, even with a tempter tantrum. Below is an example of one common scenario of a troublesome tot and a four-step process to help you respond. Read it and then think through a similar approach to the situations below it. With practice, you too can learn how to better cope with those inevitable tantrums.

    Situation: It’s the end of the day and you need to go grocery shopping, but your child is tired. Cranky and disagreeable, he starts crying and running around the aisles.

    What you can do: Develop an alternative solution. At the heart of this temper tantrum is a clash of parent and child agendas. Instead of imposing your agenda – the need to finish shopping without tearing down the aisles – try following these steps:

    1. Describe the problem to your child and give reasons.
      “I don’t like what is going on – It’s disturbing to shoppers when children  run in the aisles.”
    1. Talk about your child’s feelings.
      “Tired, huh?”
    1. Involve your child in finding a solution.
      “It would be helpful if you picked out three big lemons for us.”
    1. Reinforce the lesson: When you next go shopping and your child wants to go with you, try the following dialogue:
      Child: “I want to go too!”
      Parent: “Not today.”
      Child: “Why not?”
      Parent: “You tell me why?” (Prompt for correct answer if necessary, but do not supply it wholesale.)
      Child: “Because I ran around the store?”
      Parent: “You guessed it. There will be plenty of other chances to go, but today I’m going by myself.”

    Now think through the below two situations and come up with your own response, based on the above four-step process.

    • Your eldest child is having a birthday party at home. While opening presents, your younger child grabs the box and rips the paper off and throwing it around the room. What you can do?
    • While on a play date, your child demands to use the one swing, pulling it away from the other children. What you can do?

    Remember, when raising toddlers, don’t forget to set limits. Limit setting is a parent’s best friend. The process of setting limits offers structure and teaches the connection between actions and consequences. When consistently followed, setting limits helps.