Here are tips that will help you avoid or defuse tantrums:
1- Give your children choices. Children have a need to feel competent and capable so when you give them choices you empower them. They will not feel the need to create a power struggle to feel competent.
2- Prepare your children for what to expect. Remember that children have very little control over their lives, parents and the teachers and the coaches make a lot of the decisions. When you let them know what is expected, you give them a sense of control.
3- Set simple rules that you reinforce firmly and daily. Clarity and simplicity are essential as well as consistency and clear and firm limits.
4- Instead of feeding into your children frustrations, try to reorient their focus. Distract them with a game, a favorite toy, or a story.
5- Avoid raising your voice. If you yell, your child may just yell louder. Children have access to the more reactive/primitive part of their brain and need you to teach them to access the part of their brain that is more reflexive. To do so, you need to be calm and firm.
6- When children get worked up, sometimes it’s best to give them time to calm down and then make your request or discuss the important or emotionally charged topic.
7- Be open to try something new if your usual ways to deal with tantrums no longer works. As your children develop, your parenting skills must develop with them.
8- It’s natural for children to test and push boundaries. Explain that your rules are meant to protect her/him. Be patient, firm and consistent.
9- Wait until everyone’s temper has cooled down before deciding on any punishment. Make sure it’s mild and instructive. Express empathy as they are experiencing consequences for poor choices.
10- Once the child has calmed down, talk about what happened and teach him soothing techniques and problem solving skills to deal with it more skillfully next time. Listen carefully if your child shares any thoughts and feelings.
Dr.Baya Mebarek, Psy.D, LMFT