Even the most placid children have temper tantrums eventually, so you can bet there’ll be times when your little one tests your patience (usually somewhere horribly public like the veg aisle of your local supermarket). Fear not, however, as all the experts agree tantrums are a normal part of your child’s development and are mostly the result of frustration as he begins to express his emotions. Of course he may just be hungry, tired or over stimulated. Whatever the cause, here’s how to de-fuse the situation:
Keep a diary
By jotting down when outbursts happen, you may be able to work out a trigger. For example, if they regularly happen just before teatime, it could be hunger that’s triggering your child’s tantrums. Take note and learn to recognise the signs so you can avoid them altogether.
Many tantrums occur when parents put their child in a situation he or she isn’t really ready for. Fatigue, hunger, or simply boredom on a too-long shopping trip are all common triggers. A crowded, over stimulating family gathering might be another. Plan ahead and consider what your child can handle, but bear in mind that even with all the patience and tact in the world, you can’t dodge every temper tantrum.
Be seen to hear
Defuse your child’s anger by echoing his feelings and, verbally acknowledging them. When he’s kicking and screaming on the floor because he can’t have an ice cream, for example, say ‘You’re really angry, aren’t you’? Then, remove his audience – namely yourself – so he has space to calm down on his own.
Keep an eye on him
Not every expert agrees that ignoring the tantrum is the best strategy, but many parents swear by it. Nevertheless, you’ll need to intervene further if your child’s tantrum persists and he becomes destructive or aggressive.
Above all, keep your cool, no matter how embarrassing the situation and if at all possible, calmly remove your child (kicking and screaming if need be) to a quiet spot where you can both cool off.
Have a cuddle
When all else fails, try giving him a gentle but firm bear hug from behind while you keep whispering in his ear that everything will be fine.