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  • How to Survive Your Child’s Temper Tantrums

    by Dr. Noel Swanson

    Here is the picture: You have just dared to deny your two year old a cookie. So how does she respond? Does she take it on the chin? Does she philosophically and phlegmatically accept that, at times, life sucks?

    Not on your life!

    What does she do? She screams. She hollers. She cries. She stamps her feet. She rolls around on the floor as though in the grip of blood sucking demon.

    Soon the neighbors are banging on the door wondering why you are torturing your child. Then social services arrive. Next thing you know, you are on national television being carted off to jail for child abuse.

    Well, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration. But it certainly can get pretty stressful trying to deal with it all.

    So what should you do?

    The key here, as always, is to STAY CALM. The dynamic is pretty simple. Child wants cookie. Parent says no. Child wants to change parent’s mind, so she puts on a display. This is important to remember: the sole purpose of this display is to get you to GIVE IN.

    If you do, then the child learns that tantrums work and, guess what? Next time she will try it again.

    So, if you want to eliminate the tantrums, here is what you do: Walk away.

    That’s it.

    Let her carry on rolling around on the floor. Ignore her. Do not try to pacify her (that would be rewarding it by giving her attention). Do not scold her (same reason). Do not say anything. Just walk out of the room.

    If she follows you then, if necessary, lock yourself in the bedroom or even bathroom – anywhere that you can get away from her and completely ignore her. Put on some music, or the vacuum cleaner so you can’t hear her.

    The goal is to give her no attention, no feedback, no reward for as long as she is making a fuss.

    It is pretty hard to keep up a performance when no one is listening. So if you do this successfully, she will eventually calm down. When she does, THEN give her some attention (but not a cookie!) Reward being quiet, not the tantrum.

    But be warned – she might get pretty loud before she gives up, so be prepared to see it through! If you give in before she is calm, you will have rewarded the tantrum and made it even more likely to happen next time.

    Just one other point – obviously, before you walk out, do make sure that she is safe where she is. It would not be wise, for example, to leave her unattended, having a giant paddy, in the kitchen with hot liquids boiling away on the hob.

    Now, what if she does this in public?

    Of course her tactic is even more powerful there, as she can enlist your fear of embarrassment to work in her favor.

    The principles, though, are the same. You need to ignore it. You could just walk away and leave her screaming in the aisles while you continue shopping. Or you could pick her up, carry her to the car, put her inside, and then stand outside (with your back to her) until she is calm.

    If you have already been doing it successfully at home, she will pretty quickly realize that the same rules apply here, so she should settle down fairly quickly.

    Dr. Noel Swanson is a practicing psychiatrist with over 2 decades of extensive clinical experience. He is the author of the internationally acclaimed Good Child Guide

    I highly recommend this resource to you.

    Please share this article.

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    Warmly,

      Anthony Kane, MD
        P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

          If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

            Please go to:

          How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

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