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Behavior Advice | How to Manage Tantrums and Fits

March 18th, 2010 - Category: Behavior Advice

One of the most difficult decisions parents must make together is how to handle tantrums and fits from their children. I say together because that is exactly what should occur, both husband and wife should determine together, before tantrums ever even happen, exactly what they will do when their child begins to throw fits (and they WILL throw fits).

Every Child Will Eventually Throw a Tantrum/Fit

It is inevitable, but everyone eventually gets disappointed to the point where it throws them a little off their rocker. It is a normal tendency, especially of toddlers, to begin acting up and throwing fits to see if they can change a situation in their favor. Do not take offense and don’t be disheartened when this happens. Tantrums can be embarrassing (especially if they are in public) and they can be very frustrating for parents. This is why it is important to keep your cool. Your frustration will only add to the child’s flame and then two or three people are frustrated instead of only one. Here are some helpful hints to help manage temper tantrums and fits when they occur.

Be Patient

It is vital that you do not raise your voice or let the tantrum throw YOU into a tantrum. Be patient and calm when the child begins to act up. This will show them that their actions are not changing anything and they will begin to realize that alternate means of communication might be more effective.

This is easier said than done, especially in a public setting. However, it is even more vital that you do not react any differently in public than you would at home. Do not, under any circumstances, offer them incentives, bribe, threaten, or punish them. Simply encourage them to be quiet and wait it out. If it is necessary, quietly scoop them up and take them outside until they are ready to calm down.

Time Out

At home, it may sometimes be necessary to put a child in “time-out.” This could be a corner or a room in the house where they are isolated and have time to release energy and get it all out until they are ready to calm down and be reasonable.

This specified area should be a consistant location. You should not change where time-out is ever. Also, it is important that this location not be the child’s room or play area but rather a designated area known by both you and the child. Remember that yelling or threatening is still not evident here. If the child gets out of hand, calmly ask them to go to time-out until they are ready to discuss the matter in a reasonable fashion.

Express Love

It is more important than ever, under a tantrum type of circumstance, to show your love for the child that is throwing the fit. As a parent, it is very easy to lose our cool in these instances and say/do things that we don’t mean. Remember to stay calm and tell them that you love them.

I remember as a child when I use to blow up when I didn’t get something that I wanted or something didn’t go my way. I would storm to my room and scream uncontrollably until I lacked the energy to scream anymore. Precisely at that moment, when the screaming had stopped, I would hear my father’s footsteps coming down the hall. He wouldn’t come in as I wasn’t ready for that yet, he would simply stand outside the door, say that he was sorry (even though it was never his fault) and tell me that he loved me no matter what. I will always respect my father for those simple acts of kindness and love that he showed towards me in those times of difficulty.

Discuss the Problem After the Fit (Reconcile)

Finally, it is vital that you do not let the matter go after the child has calmed down. If the problem is not addressed then it will likely evolve to become a problem again in the future and the cycle will keep revolving. Instead, after the tantrum has subsided, approach the child, or have him/her come to you and discuss what went wrong. Try to reconcile the situation so that both you and the child are at a mutual understanding of why things are the way they are. Listen to their side. REALLY listen to what they have to say and don’t get mad or offended. Let them know that you really do care what they have to say and then calmly explain your side of the story. This will limit the potential for the tantrums to reoccur and increase the likelihood of you and your child growing closer as a result.

What are some ideas that you have regarding how to handle tantrums? What has or hasn’t worked for you and why? Please share with us and the community your thoughts in the comments section below.

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