Stop the Tantrum – No yelling, bribing or distracting!
March 5, 2016
A lot of moms have told me (and I used to believe) that the ultimate way to stop a tantrum was to distract your child. I will admit that it does work. However, this technique does not teach your child anything about patience. It does not teach your child that what they are upset about matters and sometimes it can infuriate a child causing all kinds of embarrassing situations.
What has been working for us when Donovan goes toddler-crazy, is:
- He screams. He wants something. It’s either not safe, not allowed, or whatever.
- I stop whatever I am doing, move down to his level, and ACKNOWLEDGE what he wants.
- Immediately he is reassured that mommy cares, mommy understands, and mommy will handle it.
- Next, I ask him to say what he wants or point to what he wants. I want to show him the best way to communicate. Then I say “See, you didn’t need to scream”. Then I give him what he wants if I can.
- If I cannot / will not give him whatever he wants at the time of the fit, I tell him why he can’t have it. For instance, “No, Donovan that will hurt you. That is not safe”. You will need to repeat this a few times to make sure he understands. Use as few words as possible.
- Finally, I immediately follow it up with something he can have. “You can’t have that because it is not safe, but how about THIS do you want THIS? or do you want THIS instead”? “Donovan, you need to let mommy know which one you want. This one or this one”? Once he chooses, he is happy.
What you have just done was:
- Acknowledge his feelings
- Teach life lessons
- Increase Communication Confidence
The picture in this article was taken from a real temper tantrum because mommy threw away the chapstick that he was trying to eat. I acknowledged his feelings, told him chapstick is not for eating and it could hurt him, explained that if he was hungry he could have raisins or yogurt. Boom – temper tantrum ended. He had some yogurt.
Sometimes the tantrum is just a tantrum. Nothing is wanted and nothing is going to solve it. That is when talking and offering choices will not work. You simply have to tell your child to come get you when they are done and walk away. For instance, “Donovan, you are throwing a fit. Mommy does not know what you want or how to help you. Come and get mommy when you are done”. Then, I leave the room. The fit doesn’t last but maybe 10 seconds after that.