Contributors

Part Two: Strategies for Preventing Temper Tantrums


Hi everyone, it’s Melissa! I am so happy to be back on Jillian’s blog sharing another post with you today. This blog is a continuation of my latest blog, “What Are Temper Tantrums and How to Avoid Them”, so if you missed that one make sure to check it out. Today we are talking all about strategies for preventing temper tantrums! And rather than strategies for preventing temper tantrums, maybe what is needed here is some strategies on positive parenting and teaching.

Melissa P

When your child or student is having a temper tantrum, these three steps might help:

1. Acknowledge

say what you see and what you noticed your child doing “bringing hot chocolate in the bedroom” and express this in a way that there is no judgment in your tone. This may help you to calm down and not become reactive. Acknowledgement for a child is a HUGE RELIEF. If your child is doing some-thing you’d rather he or she didn’t, start with a question to find out how they are feeling and acknowledge their frustration “I see that you want to have hot chocolate in your bedroom on your new big girl bed”. 

2. Offer a “can do” suggestion

Something that meets their current desire, and it is ok with you. For example, “I see you are really would like your hot chocolate and you can have hot chocolate at the table or at the kitchen counter.” No need to mention where they CAN’T have it, as this may cause the child to escalate, get frustrated and have a temper tantrum. Sometimes children will find their own ‘Can Do.’

3. Once they are doing what you like, point out their strengths

“I like the way you decided to drink your hot chocolate at the table.” Naming strengths EMPOWERS children. 

I really believe, that when parents take the time to make the connection and try to experience what the child is frustrated about, the child feels listened to and outbursts can be avoided. This is where I may receive some pushback, parents might say what if I’m really busy and I can’t take the time to listen. Trust me, by the time you take all the minutes to settle your child down once they are upset, it would have taken less time to listen to your child and avoid the potential issue and challenge leading to a temper tantrum.

Tips and tricks on preventing temper tantrums

Here is the benefit of this strategy:

1. Saying what you see, creates the connection 

2. Providing a ‘can do suggestion’, provides an acknowledgement and understanding experience for the child 

3. Naming a strength, empowers the child. 

These strategies create a new way of communicating with your child. This allows you to avoid communication styles where there are bribes, rewards, threats, shame, guilt and consequences. Will you need those methods periodically in the real world, absolutely, but we really need to get into the habit of the language of mindful listening and being present in the moment. 

As I mentioned earlier, I really believe the key to avoid a temper tantrum is PREVENTION. To prevent your child or children from becoming overly frustrated, and we need as parents and educators to practice the disciplines of active listening and acknowledgement to help guide the child to the problem-solving stage. It is easier than you think.

 Additional tips: 

  1. Focus on catching your child being good and reward them with praise and attention for their positive behavior.
  1. Give independent toddlers some choices, for example: Do you want to have your hot chocolate at the table, or do you want to have your hot chocolate at the kitchen counter? 
  1. Distraction is ‘Golden’, offer them something else in place of what they have their mind set on or a new activity, and if that doesn’t work, simply change their environment, take them outside or downstairs in a different room. 
  1. Teach them new skills to help them succeed starting with simple tasks and moving on to more challenging tasks.
  1. Have empathy, ask yourself is what your child requesting actually super outrageous and choose your battles. 
  1. Know your child, when they’re hungry, when they’re tired, when it might not be the best time to squeeze in one more errand or one more phone call, read their body language and set both them and you up for success.

Have you ever wondered what YOU are supposed to be doing while your child is having a temper tantrum?

If you are upset try these Calm Down Strategies:

1. If you are upset, STOP. 

2. Turn away if needed.  Name your emotion, “I’m feeling really frustrated.” I used to say, “My head is about to pop off right now,” which the kids in my class found to be a funny visual or “Read my body language right now, do I look busy? Do I have my head in a hole?” So funny because the kids in my class would then use the language and tell each other, look Mrs.Pasutto is busy, she has her head in the hole. 

3. Take some deep breaths. Wait until you’re calm before you can help somebody else with their behaviour. Sometimes you need to say things to your kids like, this is just not working, as I can see we’re both really tired now. Tomorrow, let’s talk and come up with a new plan to deal with the situation at hand. Park it and address it later when everybody is calm and in a solution mode.

Strategies for preventing temper tantrums

If all else fails and you do end up in a situation where the child has escalated, often this is when parents find themselves threatening, bribing and being angry, possibly yelling at their child. Remember that the first thing we need to do is to calm down, so maybe figure out what it takes to calm your child. Is it taking deep breaths? Is it jumping up and down, dancing, playing with playdough, asking for a hug, looking at a book, listening to music? What calms your child down? Then do whatever works.

Once your child is calm then move back into your active listening form of communication. It might be a good idea to have a calm-down space in your house that you can make cozy, and your child can go there when they just need to calm down. Calming down is NOT being put in a timeout. Teach yourself how to calm down, especially when there is an intense emotion is imperative. We need to know how to regain self -control and that punishment isn’t a way to teach children how to calm down. Putting your child in timeout, I believe, likely causes resentment and does not teach them how to calm themselves down. Remember that compliance comes out of fear of punishment, it isn’t a goal of Authoritative parents. Calming down helps your child deal with intense emotions and teaches them an alternative, to the behavior, that led to the calm- down. It teaches them that taking a break when you’re worked up is a good thing not a bad thing, even for adults.

Remember that you can’t control someone else’s behavior. You can’t make your child do anything, and your child doesn’t want to do everything you ask, just because you’re the one asking. Tell your kids what YOU expect and how YOU will behave not how THEY will behave. 

I encourage the mindset of accepting who they are, instead of overriding them with WHO you are. Those who know me, know that I am an advocate of using resources to gain knowledge and guidance. These are some of the books I used to rear our boys and teach in the classroom. One author I would like to recommend is Barbara Coloroso. Some of the books I read were –  Kids Are Worth It: Raising Resilient, Responsible, Compassionate Kids and Parenting Through Crisis: Helping Kids in Times of Loss, Grief and Change and many others. Two other books that were my parenting and teaching bibles were: Parent Effectiveness Training ( P.E.T.) and Teacher Effectiveness Training (T.E.T.) I’m not sure of the authors but hopefully, you can still order them online.

Thank you for reading these suggestions and hope you found at least one little gem of an idea that might be useful to make parenting/teaching more enjoyable. Keep up the good work, these are unprecedented times that need ways of compassion, patience, empathy and hope.

Melissa

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  1. This was exactly what I needed to read tonight. Thank you for giving me some hope, tantrums have been so hard to navigate. ❤️

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