Week 5 Lesson
By now you likely recognize which day-to-day happenings tend to trigger your child's tantrums and what you can do to sidestep those messy scenarios. Last week, you learned how to react once a tantrum erupts. But do you know what not to do?
When trying to respond to your child's tempestuous emotions, put these tactics on your Don't list:
Don't try to explain the situation. Unfortunately, a reasonable explanation just won't halt a fit in its tracks. Talking too much to your toddler during her temper tantrum only makes the situation worse: With emotions in high gear, she not only can't hear you, but she also may become further frustrated. Although you're advised to put your child's anger into words with a sound bite (such as, "You're mad because I won't allow you another cookie"), refrain from saying much more. It's best to wait until the temper tantrum is over and your child is fully calm before explaining, reasoning, or problem solving with her.
Don't give in. Once you tell your child that he can't have another cookie and he proceeds to have an emotional meltdown, try not to change your mind. You don't want temper tantrums to work for your toddler. When you give in, your child receives the message that temper tantrums bring desired results—not a lesson you want to instill! Therefore, be conscious about what you say no to when your child asks, and make sure that you'll be willing to hold to it.
Don't spank your child. As discipline goes, some parents spank their children, others find alternatives to spanking. Regardless which side of the issue you're on, definitely do not hit your child when she's having a temper tantrum. This will likely only further enrage her, prolonging her tirade. Your job is to provide emotional protection during times she feels out of control, not fuel the tantrum fire by physically riling her.
Week 5 Project
Evaluate your tantrum-taming tactics honestly: Do you talk too much? Cave to her demands? Resort to spanking? If so, revisit the Do's for managing tantrums from last week, and try to replace just one of your Don't actions with one from that list. As difficult as this self-reflection may be, it is so much easier to modify your own behavior than to try to change your child's—and it can be significantly more rewarding for both of you in the long run.
Hold Your Ground
The Tantrum Don't behaviors, above, are ones that many, many parents say are their gut reactions when their child is thrashing on the floor, making a scene, and just generally pushing them to their limits. But because these three tactics really will derail any progress you're making toward having a more peaceful toddler, they're the actions you most need to refrain from completely.
If, as you're flustered and trying not to resort to any Don'ts, you can't recall any positive ways to address your child, remember your Week 4 tip: Just sit on the floor next to your child, say nothing, and breathe deeply. See what happens. Likely the tantrum will pass, and you'll both have emerged from this emotional experience a little better off.
Since old parenting habits are hard to break, give yourself credit when you don't react in your habitual way to a tantrum. It may feel good to jot down your experience so you can reflect on it later, or chat with other moms about how you effectively maneuvered the situation.
Even if it's just once a week at first that you appropriately respond to tantrum, congratulate yourself: You're on the way to managing your toddler's behaviors rather than reacting to them in a way that only prolong their existence.
Read all seven steps in this series: