Let’s get one thing clear from the outset….writing an article about what you should do if your child throws a temper tantrum is one thing. Dealing with your own child throwing a temper tantrum is quite something else!
There’s no parent who has, at one time or another, not been driven to the brink of despair by a child who is creating hell all around them, usually in a supermarket or some other busy location with lots of bystanders/spectators/parenting experts. While you struggle valiantly with a toddler or older child, you’ll hear a clicking noise around you as the lookers-on tut and give it the ‘in my day’ stories. Bite your lip and remind yourself that you’re in charge.
The most common tantrum triggers tend to revolve around the word ‘no’. Whether it’s ‘no, you can’t have’ or ‘no, you can’t do’, they’re both guaranteed to set your child off on a road to nowhere.
Attention seeking can be another trigger. Small kids love to be the centre of attention even if it’s for negative reasons. If you give in to a tantrum once, you can be assured that you’ll get a repeat performance very soon!
The worst tantrums are usually those, which take place in public arenas, usually the supermarket. Obviously the first solution is to leave your child with a relative or friend so that you avoid any possibility of a tantrum but, if this isn’t possible, then try to keep your shopping trips as short as possible. Involve your child as much as you can by asking them to go and fetch certain items that are (a) within her reach and (b) in the same aisle as you. Don’t have her running around the shop by herself. If she is still young enough to sit in the trolley, distract her attention by giving her a toy or a book to read.
If, despite your best efforts, a tantrum does rear its ugly head, try and stay calm. Talk quietly to your child and explain to her that her behaviour isn’t acceptable. If all else fails, leave the shop – and your shopping – behind. You won’t be the first to have to resort to such drastic measures and you certainly won’t be the last.
Remember first and foremost that you are the adult and in charge. Try the following steps to calm the situation:
- get down on your knees in front of your child, holding her gently by the shoulders and look at her until she makes eye contact with you. Then speak to her. Kids don’t always respond to voices from ‘on high’ so get your message across by getting down to her level
- sometimes tantrums are a way of letting off steam so, if your child has got herself into a bit of a loop in that she doesn’t even remember why she kicked off in the first place, then put on some music and start dancing around. With a bit of luck she’ll join in and the whole episode will be forgotten
- use the ‘time out’ technique – it may be something of an old chestnut now but it has been proven time and time again to work. One minute per year of age is sometimes all that is necessary, especially for a young child, to get herself together and calm down