They’re bound to happen, no matter how good your kids are. And when they do, many parents find it hard to know how to respond. Your child having a temper tantrum can be one of the most frustrating, exhausting, and sometimes embarrassing moments for any parent. It’s like your child is a wound up ball of emotions that just starts unraveling right in front of your eyes, and the only thing that seems to work is the one thing you don’t want to do— give in.
It’s important to understand that one of the reasons for temper tantrums is simply the fact that young children are not old enough to think logically for themselves, which results in them often being very impulsive and easily upset. While this should never be used as an excuse for tantrums, it can be a key to helping parents understand how they can bring balance and correction to the situation. For any parent who struggles with trumping a temper tantrum, here are 3 words to remember to help yourself and your child in these moments.
1. Be CALM
The last thing your child needs when they lack self-control is an adult parent who joins in with them. As parents, we must be the voice of reason when our child doesn’t have one. Their tantrum is often a reaction to their anger or frustration over something. So rather than yelling at them and losing it ourselves, we would be far better off taking a deep breath, getting down on their level, and telling them calmly, yet seriously, our expectations and consequences.
While you’re down there, encourage them to tell you why they are so upset (if they’re old enough), or what is bothering them, but don’t allow them to be hateful or disrespectful. The reason they are throwing a fit is because they want to be heard and understood; they just may not yet understand that a tantrum is the wrong way to do that. Their tantrum is actually a teaching opportunity to show them how to properly communicate their feelings.
2. Be CONSISTENTYour child needs clear boundaries.
If you tell your child that there will be consequences, it is imperative that you follow through on your words. Or the next time a tantrum happens, make your expectations and the consequences known for future incidents. Your child needs clear boundaries, and nothing hurts your efforts more than when you send mixed signals. If they sense that you are not serious about your own expectations, neither will they be. Once you and your child know what you expect, consistency is the biggest key to your success.
3. Be CLEAR
Tantrums allow you to set clear precedents in your parenting, either for the good or the bad. It’s natural for children, especially young children, to test the limits to see what they can and can’t get away with and if their actions will produce their desired results. They also test your limits as a way of confirming the safety and security of your love. A wise parent will use tantrums as opportunities to help their child grow rather than allow tantrums to become an inroad to entitlement and control. Make it clear that you will never give in to a tantrum or a defiant spirit. Doing so only reinforces the wrong behavior and makes it even more likely to happen again.
Regardless of what it takes, win the small battles while they’re still small because it’s easier to trump a tantrum of a toddler than it is one of a teenager. And whatever you do, always balance your expectations and correction with love. As long as your child knows that you love them unconditionally, you are on the right road to success.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some things that make you really upset?”