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Monday, August 25, 2008

Squash those Tantrums while keeping a Cool head

So why do kids throw tantrums?

Almost every parent would have experienced a "Why doesn't the ground open up and swallow me" kind of situation because of your child's Tantrum!

Unsightly as they might be, tantrums are a normal part of development. For those parents who have escaped from such events so far be forewarned.

Studies show that both boys and girls get them just as frequently and even the most mild tempered child have the occasional tantrum, so don't despair when the tempers kick in.

The two most common reasons are frustration and inability to communicate.

Frustration - Young children are still trying to master their own world. When they experience difficulty accomplishing the task at hand, very often the only way they know how to express themselves is with, you guessed it, a tantrum.

Communication - Children at this age often know more than they can express. Not being able to communicate their needs can be extremely trying and lead to the outbreak of a tantrum.

Ways to Avoid Tantrums

Reward positive behaviour - Many a time a child throws a tantrum as she seeks and wants your attention. To the child, it does not matter whether it is positive or negative, just so as she is able to catch your attention she will continue to scream, whine, cry etc. One way to nip this problem at the bud,is to catch your child when she is doing the right thing and to reward her with your full attention.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Let your children have control when it comes to making smaller decisions. They're often working out their sense of independence and having a choice helps stave off tantrums later. Let junior choose between the blue and green jacket or allow him to choose one item during trips to the supermarket.

Out of sight, out of mind -Keep bones of contention such as an older sibling's fragile plaything or the candy jar out of sight. If your child can't see it, she is less likely to remember it's there.
Avoid Tantrums

Change the environment - When frustration or the lure of an object he can't have gets too strong, take your child outside or simply move to another room.

Sweet Success - Pre-empt unnecessary frustration by choosing age-appropriate tasks and toys. Begin with simpler ones and then move on to more challenging options.

Draw the line - Children who are hungry, tired or stressed are that much more likely to throw tantrums. Postpone that shopping trip or errand till a better time whenever possible.

Teach communication skills - Teach your toddlers simple signs to express themselves such as "I want", "more" or "tired" so that you, the parent can recognise their need and met them thus avoiding or reducing the chance for tantrums. Let kids know they can tell you what their needs are and encourage them to express them clearly.

Help older children practise coping skills - This will not only reduce the incidence of tantrums thrown but it's also empowering. Children will get a chance to decide how they will be treated as a result of their decisions. Say "You have another five minutes of TV time before bed. This is a chance for you to show me how grown up and reasonable you can be, okay?"

Dos and Don'ts when a tantrum occurs

Avoid hitting
Avoid hitting and spanking - Using physical force will only send the message that force and physical assault is an acceptable means of getting things done. Take a deep breath and if talking doesn't work, wait for the storm to blow over.

Never reward a tantrum. Even if your child has calmed down, don't cave in to his demands for the plaything or treat that triggered the tantrum. Doing this will only reinforce the message that the tantrum was effective. Instead, praise your child for calming down.


Moving on. IF your child is in danger of hurting himself, other people or the property around him, take to a quiet, safe place where he can calm down.

Ignorance can be bliss. Continue with the activity at hand. Disregard his behaviour but make sure your child is within sight so you can ensure his safety. Leaving your little one entirely alone could also make him feel as if he's abandoned. So stay within his range of sight.

Quiet time. Have your child go to a room, or chair or a corner that is away from others and whatever ongoing activity. This is a surprisingly powerful tool that doesn't rely on physical punishment.

Provide reassurance. Let junior know that you still love him and give him a hug. (After he has calmed down and is no longer throwing a tantrum). This can go a long way towards boosting your child's self-worth, especially when he might be feeling vulnerable after the display of misbehaviour.

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