If you have kids you have probably experienced a temper tantrum. You don't even have to have kids. If you have ever been in a store where there are children, you have probably seen a temper tantrum. Sometimes it doesn't matter how hard we try to prevent or prepare, tantrums happen. So what do you do when you are in the middle of Super Target and all heck breaks loose. Not that I know what that is like. All heck breaking loose in Super Target. Wink Wink.
During a Tantrum, what should you do?
- Stay Calm: Do not loose your cool. Refrain from spanking, yelling, or raising your voice. It will only make things worse. If you feel like you are going to loose your cool, leave the room, or if you are in public, turn away from your child and take a deep breath.
- Don't try to Reason: During a tantrum is not the right time to try and reason with children. They are not capable of listening or understanding when they are screaming and yelling. There will be plenty of time to discuss what has happened. Avoid bribery also. It usually makes the situation worse, and sets you up for trouble in the future.
- Pay No Attention: When the tantrum starts, ignore it. Don't give in, don't pay attention, turn your eyes away and keep words to yourself. Remember, attention for negative behavior is still attention. Don't pay any attention. If you give your child attention for the tantrum, or if you give in to what they want, they will keep throwing temper tantrums.
- Time to Go: If your child is throwing a tantrum and it is hurting other kids, or you, very disruptive, or destroying things, leave. If you are at home take the child to another room. If you are in public, leave. This is really hard to do. Especially if your grocery cart is full. The last thing you want to do is leave a full cart to take a screaming child home. Be strong and do it any way. I learned this the hard way. My daughter threw a fit in a grocery store when she was younger. I said, "if you don't stop I am going to take you home, we will leave." I threatened but never followed through. The next time she threw a fit, I said the same thing and she said, "you said that last time, but we didn't leave." Ouch. And I teach this stuff. I realized that I was not practicing what I preach. I was too concerned about leaving my cart, and the people around me in the store. I immediately pushed the cart to the front of the store, picked her up, and headed to the car. She couldn't believe it. I had to go back late that night and start over with my grocery list. It didn't matter. She never threw a fit like that again. All because I followed through.
- Ignore Everyone: Tantrums are embarrassing in public. Oh Well. Every parent has had a kid throw a fit. Don't worry about the people around you. Worry about your child, and ignore the stares.
- Be Consistent: You have to stay strong and consistent. If you give in, kids will throw tantrums again. Hold your ground, every time.
After a Tantrum.
- Keep Cool. After a tantrum everyone is stressed and drained. Flustered. Forget about a long lecture or comments like, "That was embarrassing", " or " I can't believe that you would act like that." There will be time later to talk about things.
- Assess the Situation: Can you pin point why the tantrum happened. Think through the situation and see if you can identify what happened and what triggered the response. This knowledge is very valuable and will help you avoid future outbursts.
- Hold yourself Accountable: It is not just about the kids. How did you respond? Did you stay calm? Where you consistent?
- Don't withhold love: Sometimes after a tantrum ends, parents don't feel like hugging and cuddling. They are embarrassed, want to lecture and give a little of the cold shoulder. If a child in distress, or after distress wants a hug, give it to them. They are upset also. Tantrums are traumatic for kids. Withholding love will damage your relationship. The same relationship you are trying to build and strengthen.
- Follow Through: If you gave a warning or threatened a consequence, follow through. You have to. Just like I mentioned with our daughter, (threatening to leave the store), we have to follow through. Don't underestimate kids. They know and understand, and will play the system. They know if we are parents who don't follow through.
Don't loose hope or think that if you have already given in to tantrums that all hope is lost. It is not. Kids are quick learners. Parents are also. Start at the beginning, hold your ground and be consistent. As your behavior changes, your child's will follow suit.
Anyone else ever walked out of a store and left a full shopping cart behind?
Do you think tantrums are harder on the kids or the parents?