Friday, May 13, 2011

Temper Tantrums

A temper tantrum is a sudden, unplanned display of anger. It is not just an act to get attention. Temper tantrums are common. Most children ages 1 to 4 have temper tantrums. Some children have tantrums every day. A tantrum is a normal response when something blocks a young child from gaining independence or learning a skill. The child may not yet have the skills to express anger and frustration in other ways.

For more information visit this website: http://children.webmd.com/tc/temper-tantrums-topic-overview

Tips for Preventing Temper Tantrums:
  • Be consistent. Establish a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect.                                                                                  
  • Plan ahead. Run errands early in the day — when your child isn't likely to be hungry or tired. If you're expecting to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.
  • Encourage your child to use words. Young children understand many more words than they're able to express. As your child gets older, help him or her put feelings into words.
  • Let your child make choices. To give your child a sense of control, let him/her make appropriate choices.
  • Praise good behavior. Offer extra attention when your child behaves well. Tell your child how proud you are when he or she shares toys, listens to directions, and so on.
  • Use distraction. If you sense a tantrum brewing, distract your child.
  • Avoid situations likely to trigger tantrums. If your child begs for toys or treats when you shop, steer clear of "temptation islands" full of eye-level goodies. 
For more information from the Mayo Clinic on why temper tantrums occur click here.

Assess your child's behavior in a table similar to the one below. This will give you a good idea of what triggers your child's behavior and will hopefully help you minimize those triggers.

My Child Behaves Best When:My Child Behaves Worst When:
I'm attentiveShopping in the afternoon
She's well-restedI'm too busy for too long
She's held in a slingThere's too much commotion
She's busyShe's bored

It is much easier to prevent temper tantrums than it is to manage them once they have erupted. Here are some tips for preventing temper tantrums and some things you can say:
  • Reward children for positive attention rather than negative attention. During situations when they are prone to temper tantrums, catch them when they are being good and say such things as, “Nice job sharing with your friend.”
  • Do not ask children to do something when they must do what you ask. Do not ask, “Would you like to eat now?” Say, “It’s suppertime now.”
  • Give children control over little things whenever possible by giving choices.
  • Keep off-limit objects out of sight and therefore out of mind.
  • Distract children by redirection to another activity when they tantrum over something they should not do or cannot have. 
  • Change environments, thus removing the child from the source of the temper tantrum.
  • Choose your battles. Teach children how to make a request without a temper tantrum and then honor the request.
  • Make sure that children are well rested and fed in situations in which a temper tantrum is a likely possibility.
  • Avoid boredom.
  • Create a safe environment that children can explore without getting into trouble - childproof your home
  • Increase your tolerance level. Are you available to meet the child’s reasonable needs? Evaluate how many times you say, “No.” Avoid fighting over minor things.
  • Signal children before you reach the end of an activity so that they can get prepared for the transition. Say, “When the timer goes off 5 minutes from now it will be time to turn off the TV and go to bed.”
  • When visiting new places or unfamiliar people explain to the child beforehand what to expect.
  • Provide pre-academic, behavioral, and social challenges that are at the child’s developmental level so that the child does not become frustrated.
  • Keep a sense of humor to divert the child’s attention and surprise the child out of the tantrum.
Strategies for Handling a Temper Tantrum:
  • Remain calm and do not argue with the child.
  • Think before you act.
  • Try to intervene before the child is out of control.
  • You can place the child in time away.
  • You can ignore the tantrum if it is being thrown to get your attention. Once the child calms down, give the attention that is desired.
  • Hold the child who is out of control and is going to hurt himself or herself or someone else. Let the child know that you will let him or her go as soon as he or she calms down.
  • If the child has escalated the tantrum to the point where you are not able to intervene in the ways described above, then you may need to direct the child to time-out 
  • Talk with the child after the child has calmed down. When the child stops crying, talk about the frustration the child has experienced. Try to help solve the problem if possible. For the future, teach the child new skills to help avoid temper tantrums.
For more strategies and ideas click here

More resources:
Healthy Children (Powered by Pediatricians; Trusted by Parents) 
Understanding Children 
Temper Tantrums and Head Banging 

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