Every parent has had to deal with tantrums that leave you frayed with skyrocketing blood pressure. Kids usually have tantrums when they are tired or hungry, or when they are too young to communicate what they are feeling. One of the worst parts about tantrums is that they can happen anywhere at any time, and they often happen at the worst possible time.
There are things you can do to help avoid tantrums, but there are also steps you can take to stop or lessen a tantrum when it is already in full swing. Learn how to help your child calm down today.
How to Avoid Tantrums
There are a few preventative measures you can take to help circumvent tantrums. Obviously, since hungry and tired kids are kids on the verge of a tantrum, make sure you carry snacks and help your kid get enough sleep. If your child is starting to get grumpy before nap or bed, give him time to relax with you. Watch a little TV, read a book, or just snuggle. Spending time calming down and relaxing without stimulation is a great way to transition to naps or bedtime.
If you are heading into a situation that often causes tantrums, like a long religious service, a long meal at a restaurant, or grocery shopping, you can often head off a tantrum before you head out the door. Explain your expectations calmly and specifically, and offer a special treat for compliance. If your child starts getting wound up during your event, remind her of the treat and that can turn them around quickly. Be careful to not offer bribes during a tantrum, which can only reinforce bad behavior.
While you are at home and relaxed, start to teach your kids methods to calm down when they start getting upset. Practice deep breathing, try taking 10 deep breaths together. You can even ask your child to pretend to get upset and then practice deep breathing. Teach your child to count to 10 or to picture their special place. Maybe a family vacation or a time something really funny happened.
When a tantrum starts to happen, you can remind your child of these techniques and walk them through them. When you get angry or frustrated, demonstrate self-calming by practicing these techniques yourself.
During a Tantrum
In spite of all of your planning and preparation, tantrums are bound to happen. When they do, the number one thing you can do to help is to stay calm. Lower your voice to almost a whisper so your child has to stop yelling to hear you. If your child is too young to express himself fully, help by offering empathy. Say something like, I understand that you are sad we have to leave your friend’s house. Or, I know you are angry that we can’t have ice cream for dinner. This gives your child words to express himself, allowing him to do so without melting down.
If you are in public, it can be embarrassing when your child throws a tantrum. With people watching on, it feels as though they are judging you as a parent. If you cannot calm yourself down in that situation, leave the store and go to your car or a little walk with your child. Sometimes taking a child out of the situation is enough to stop the meltdown. Once you have both calmed down, see if you can go back in, or go home.
If you are at home, try to redirect your child into another activity. Consider asking them to draw a picture of how angry or frustrated they are. Listen to music that is upbeat, maybe some silly kid’s songs. If your kids are in a safe place, walk away and let them wind down alone. You can even put yourself in time out, go into your bedroom for a few minutes.
Help Your Kids Stay Calm
Kids have tantrums, and that is sometimes unavoidable, but you can help avoid and shorten tantrums by following these tips.