An Ounce of Prevention
It is much easier to prevent temper tantrums than
it is to manage them once they have erupted. Here are some tips
for preventing temper tantrums:
Notice and reward your
child's positive behavior rather than negative behavior.
During situations when they are prone to temper tantrums, "catch
'em being good." For example, say, "Nice job sharing with
Don't ask your child to
do something when they must do what you ask. Don't say, "Would
you like to eat now?" at dinner time; just announce, "It's
Give the child control
over little things whenever possible by giving them choices.
A little bit of power now can stave off the big power struggles
later. "Which do you want to do first--brush your teeth or
put on your pajamas?"
Keep off-limit objects
out of sight and therefore out of mind. During an art activity,
keep the scissors out of reach if children are not ready to use
Distract the child
by redirecting her to another activity when she starts to tantrum
over something she should not do or cannot have. "Let's read
a book together."
thus removing the child from the source of the temper tantrum. "Let's
go for a walk."
Choose your battles.
Teach your child how to make a request without a temper tantrum
and then honor his request. "Try asking for that toy nicely
and I'll get it for you."
Make sure that your child
is well rested and fed when approaching situations where
she is likely to have a temper tantrum. "Supper is almost ready;
here's a cracker for now."
Avoid boredom. "You
have been working on that puzzle for a long time. Let's take a break
and do something else."
Create a safe environment
that children can explore without getting into trouble. Child-proof
your home so toddlers can explore safely.
Increase your tolerance
level. Remember that parenting is a full-time job. Are you
available to meet this child's reasonable needs? Evaluate how many
times you say, "No" to this child. Avoid conflicts over
Establish routines and
traditions. These add structure and predictability to your
child's life. Start dinner with opportunity for sharing the day's
experiences; start bedtime with a story
Signal the child
before you reach the end of an activity so that he can get prepared
for the transition. "When the timer goes off in five minutes,
it will be time to turn off the TV and get ready for bed."
Explain to your child beforehand
what to expect when visiting new places or unfamiliar people,.
"There will be lots of people at the zoo. Be sure to hold onto
Provide learning, behavioral,
and social activities that are the child's developmental level
so that they do not become either frustrated or easily bored. Children
should be ready for new experiences so that they find challenge
without undue difficulty.
Keep a sense of humor
to divert the child's attention and surprise them out of the tantrum.
Humor and perspective can to much for your own sanity as well.
Help children to develop
an awareness of early signs of a temper tantrum. For example,
say, "I see you are rocking in your chair now; what are you
thinking?" With practice the child could learn to signal you
when he notices that he is beginning to have a temper tantrum. Then
help him with some of the above prevention strategies.
Teach your child some personal
relaxation strategies such a deep breathing, stretching,
or visual imagery-imagining pleasant places, activities, etc that
help her feel calm and safe. Help her learn to use relaxation when
she feel frustrated and on the brink of a meltdown.
Teach children to express
anger constructively. Model how you calm yourself down. For
example, take your child for a walk with you when you get upset
about something, and explain how the walk makes you feel better.
Teach your child to avoid power struggles by reminding him that
you will listen to his problem only when he has calmed down. Help
your child develop a feeling vocabulary by labeling the feelings
she is demonstrating. For example, say, "You look confused,
let me see if I can help." You and the child could come up
with a variety of creative ways to deal with anger and draw pictures
to illustrate these ideas. Some ways of avoiding anger might include
playing with a favorite toy, drawing in a coloring book, listening
to music, etc.