7 Quick Tips for Dealing with Temper Tantrums
Ahh, the feeling you get when your child is kicking and screaming in public as people passing by give you weird looks, some of those people even stepping in to try to calm your child down or to give you their opinion on the matter.
I think it’s safe to say that dealing with temper tantrums is not fun. But it is a normal part of raising a child.
Beginning around age 2, tantrum behaviors can persist throughout the childhood years and even into adolescence. Temper tantrums often stem from children not being able to appropriately express what they want (or don’t want). Oftentimes, children will engage in tantrum behaviors when they feel a sense of not having control over things.
My daughter, who is under the age of 2, is just beginning to throw little fits. So I know that some major meltdowns are coming in the not-so-distant future.
Luckily, because I was a child therapist before becoming a stay-at-home mommy, I feel well-equipped to deal with any temper tantrums she wants to throw my way.
And I hope that these quick tips on dealing with temper tantrums help you to feel more well-equipped as well!
Related Post: What NOT to Do During Toddler Tantrums
How to Deal with Temper Tantrums
The ultimate goal of intervening with tantrum behaviors is to teach children that they’re more likely to get what they want or need with good behaviors and appropriate communication skills, rather than with tantrums or other negative behaviors.
Here are my quick tips on how to deal with tantrums. However, if you would like more details on how to pull these tips off, you can get my FREE tantrum course here:
7 Quick Tips for Dealing with Temper Tantrums:
1. Start at home.
Start working on tantrums at home, not in public. When you’re in public, there are so many other variables that you can’t control.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t intervene in public. You should, however, try to find opportunities at home to practice first so that you can feel calmer and more comfortable with managing behaviors in public.
Sometimes it helps to take a couple weeks off from going out into public while you focus on practicing at home.
2. Know your child and anticipate misbehavior.
You know your child best, and you know what sorts of things are going to tick him off. So how can you plan accordingly to prevent tantrums?
For example, I try to bring snacks, toys, and books for my daughter when we go out in public so that I can present those to her as an alternative. This helps to keep her from getting bored and throwing tantrums.
You’ve probably already used this technique yourself, which is great! So keep working on ways to do this!
3. Praise and reinforce good behavior.
In order for kids to want to behave well, they need to feel the benefits of it. Therefore, you need to let your child know whenever he’s showing good behavior.
If children receive praise and rewards for good behavior regularly, they’ll be less likely to engage in problematic behaviors. For tips on how to praise your child, check out this post.
4. Ignore tantrum behaviors.
As long as the tantrum behaviors do not pose any danger to your child or others, you can ignore these behaviors. That means you can ignore the yelling, stomping, screaming, crying, mean comments, and arguing.
Remember to stop ignoring and start praising immediately once your child starts to get back on track with good behavior though. For more on ignoring behavior, check out this post.
5. Teach communication skills.
If your child is having tantrums because he lacks the words to communicate wants and needs, use the tantrum as a time to teach communication skills.
This can be done by either prompting him to speak (“Tell me what you want”) or by labeling the item as you offer it to him (“Juice”). However, you want to avoid teaching your child that the tantrum behavior gets him what he wants.
So it helps to first look away for a few seconds and to give 1-2 simple demands. This will help to create a break in the connection between the tantrums and your child getting what he wants.
Related Post: 11 Simple Ways to Teach Your Toddler Communication Skills
6. Teach your child to accept “No” for an answer.
If your child is not allowed to have the item he wants and is having a tantrum over it, you can teach him to accept “No.”
Start by offering an alternative item. Say “No, you can’t have that, but you can have this.” Then, give him a little praise when he accepts the alternative or you telling him “No.” With a toddler, you can also try redirecting him to an activity.
7. Don’t give in or give up.
Consistency is super important when it comes to dealing with temper tantrums. So try not to give in to your child when you’re fed up.
Instead, try out new strategies consistently for a few weeks before moving on to a new strategy. (I talk about over 20 strategies in my e-Book, The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Temper Tantrums.) And push yourself to continue learning about the possible parenting strategies that are out there!
Learn more about dealing with temper tantrums from a child therapist by taking my FREE 7-day course! Sign up here!
How have you dealt with temper tantrums?
Disclaimer: Although I was a therapist, I am not your therapist or your child’s therapist. Reading this post does not enter you into a client-therapist relationship with me. The content in this post is meant to be used as a general guideline and has not been individually tailored to the needs of you and your child. If you are in need of therapeutic services, please seek the support of a mental health counselor or behavior specialist.
References: My information comes from years of training on Applied Behavior Analysis, Parent Behavior Management Training, the Verbal Behavior Approach, and other evidence-based techniques. I also like to refer to Russell Barkley and Alan Kazdin.