5 Things Not To Do When Your Child Throws A Tantrum
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
20 October 2020
Tantrums are a normal part of child development but they can be very embarrassing and frustrating for parents, and knowing how to deal with them is an essential life skill for parents.
Even though parents usually know not to indulge a tantrum or pay attention to a badly behaved child, there is something about a meltdown tantrum that tests every parent’s patience and last nerve to the hilt. Getting angry will usually not help the situation and may even make the situation in some cases.
Try these 5 tips to help change your reaction when your child throws a tantrum:
1. Don’t be too rigid during the Terrible Two phase
Toddlers are like teenagers – they are exploring their independence and boundaries. The Terrible Two’s (and Three’s) are not something parents look forward to, but tantrums are a normal part of being a toddler, so getting angry and clamping down on your child rarely helps. Give your strong-willed child a sense of control by offering no more than two choices on something that you can live with, so that it’s a win-win situation for both, rather than you forcing your preference on him and both walking away unhappy anyway.
2. Don’t ignore your child without understanding the tantrum
While indulging a tantrum is a huge no-no, playing down or ignoring your child’s feelings is also not a good idea. Don’t patronise your child by saying that something is not a big deal or that he’s silly for being upset at something. If it doesn’t help you when you’re told that you’re getting upset for no reason, why would that strategy work on your young child? Likewise, don’t tell your child how he should feel – you have no idea what your child is feeling and no one likes being told what to do, especially a frustrated toddler who might not be able to fully communicate his feelings in the first place. Try genuinely finding out what is causing the tantrum and if your child has a valid reason for getting so upset first.
3. Don’t get angry
Even though you might want to return the screaming match, don’t! Your job is to model good behaviour, so stay calm and don’t come down to your child’s level. Likewise, don’t resort to sarcasm either, because it’s usually difficult for young ones to understand how sarcasm works at that age, so they might get confused about what you’re really saying.
4. Don’t reason with your child until he calms down
Like adults, children only hear what they want to hear, so don’t waste your time and energy in trying to reason with them in the middle of an emotional tantrum. Your words will most likely fall on deaf ears and perhaps prolong the situation even longer.
5. Don’t be a lightweight - mean what you say
No child will take you seriously if you warn them repeatedly about consequences for their bad behaviour and yet then don’t follow through with the punishment (whether it’s just a timeout or taking away privileges). Say what you mean and mean what you say.