When children get angry, they get really angry! It’s only natural for parents, despite their best intentions to get cranky too and often react by yelling back. One thing leads to another and before you know it, what started out as a simple disagreement turns into a battle of wills, with screaming, kicking and tears.
So, what do you do? First, try not to feel embarrassed. Remember, every child is likely to have a temper tantrum sometime. It’s not just you! Parents everywhere are wondering how to cope.
Often, children will throw a tantrum, because they feel frustrated that they are not being heard. They think they want their parents to give in, but what they really want is their parents to stop and listen.
When listening to what your child has to say, it’s important to accept and never dismiss your child’s feelings, even if they are hard to take. Building awareness about your child’s emotions will limit the likelihood of emotions escalating into a tantrum.
Let your child express negative feelings without judging them
Imagine if every time you became upset, some bigger, taller, frowning person looked down at you and said, ‘Don’t feel that way’, or ‘It’s silly to be upset.’ Think of how frustrated you would feel.
Are you really listening to what your child is saying?
Is it possible that you are just waiting to tell your child what you think? A tantrum often happens, because children aren’t being heard.
Reflect your child’s feelings
If you see that your school-age child is in a cranky mood, it may help to say , ‘I can see how frustrated you are, can you tell me what made you feel that way?’
Use this opportunity to solve any problems
If the children are fighting, you might say. ‘In this house, we don’t hurt people’s feelings. Let’s find another way to solve this problem.’ Then ask them what their idea of fair is.
Ask your child to explain it again
If you don’t necessarily agree, you might say, ‘Explain to me again why it feels so unfair.’ This will force your child to settle down and try and articulate his feelings.
Let your child know that he has your attention
More often than not, a child will calm down once he knows he has your full attention.
Focus on your child’s behaviour, not his personality
Instead of saying, ‘How many times do I have to ask you not to yell?’ say ‘There is no yelling allowed in the car’.
Discuss the consequences of your child’s behaviour
You could say, ‘Running inside is dangerous as you might slip or knock something over.’ This can be much more effective than saying ‘Get out of the kitchen.’
Make consequences relevant and explain them
Make the punishment fit the crime. If your child spills juice on purpose, make him clean it up instead of giving a time-out. This punishment will help him to rethink his actions in future.