We survived one of the biggest tantrums of all time in June. At the Oakland, California airport check-in of all places. Did you happen to hear about it? I literally had to physically hold and restrain my son from running off into moving traffic. The tantrum caused for lots of staring and avoidance. It does feel like judgment sometimes, which only makes us feel worse. In a low moment, I explained to my 3 year-old that he was acting like an animal. I got progressively more and more embarrassed and progressively more and more frustrated. It was one of those moments we never expect and have a hard time forgetting. The forgiving, that comes easy. Have you read the book, How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? That helps, too.
Same thing happened this weekend. I missed a meeting when I got stuck in a tornado-like tantrum and spent a big part of the weekend trying to optimize ways to support my son to avoid tantrums. When it comes to tantrums, we all know we’re supposed to calm down, but it’s difficult to say the least. Our children find all of our hidden buttons and can escalate rapidly. You can’t avoid every tantrum, but some ideas to help you survive them more gracefully:
8 Tips To Survive A Tantrum
- Giving your child enough attention and “catch them being good.” Provide specific praise in successful moments. However, don’t feel that if one child tantrums more than another that you aren’t providing enough attention. Personality is infused in behaviors, including tantrums.
- During a tantrum give your child control over little things (offer small, directed choices with options rather than Yes/No questions).
- Distraction. Move to a new room. Offer a safer toy. However silly, sing a song.
- Choose your battles and accommodate when you can. Sometimes you have to give in a little to settle yourself; that’s okay. However, your consistency from day to day is key in reducing the level and frequency of tantrums. So is time. Although most tantrums happen in 1 to 3 year-old children, many children continue to tantrum into the school years.
- Know your child’s limits. Obviously, some days are harder than other days. Sometimes we don’t get to finish the TO-DO list. Yesterday someone tweeted me that Mars was in retrograde. Now I know why it was so miserable…
- Do not ignore behaviors like hitting, kicking, biting, or throwing. Have a zero tolerance policy.
- Set your child up for success. If tantrums peak when they are hungry, have a healthy snack with you when you’re out of the house. If they peak when your child is fatigued, prioritize sleep/nap time even if you miss things. Sometimes it’s far better on all of us.
- Give yourself a break when you need it. Take turns with another parent or friend when your frustration escalates.
New Insight On Tantrums
Some researchers believe tantrums always follow a specific pattern. Watch this video called The Anatomy Of The Tantrum :