Five ways to handle a tantrum :: by Michael Grose

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Tantrums come in various guises and have various names including wobblies, tanties and hissy fits to name a few.  They can be loud and noisy with lots of shouting and yelling. They can be quite physical when doors are slammed and objects thrown. And they can be silent kind that involves sulking, which can be just as difficult to manage as the more overt kinds. Kids of all ages throw them but the frequency is a little higher in the toddler and teenage age groups.

Here are five great ideas to help you manage a wobbly:

  1. If possible, get on top of tantrums before they begin. As soon as you see the first sign of a ‘wobbly’, act quickly to prevent from escalating. Use distraction, be firm, but don’t let the tantrum take off. They tend to get a life of their own and become very energizing!
  2. Be firm and refuse to be blackmailed by your children’s outbursts.  Giving in sends a message that tantrums work if children cry loud and long enough.  If a child makes a mess or becomes destructive he or she can clean up the mess or make some type of restitution later.
  3. When a tantrum begins, move away. Don’t try and reason with a child in the middle of a tantrum.  Go into another room or even outside.  If the tantrum is in public, either move away (still close enough for supervision) or quietly remove him or her from the scene.  Refuse to be around or even cooperate with a tantrum-thrower.
  4. Following a tantrum, talk about better ways that your child could act to get his or her needs met. Rehearse what they could do next time, even practising what they could say.  This type of behaviour rehearsal can be very effective in teaching children more appropriate ways to get attention.
  5. Provide a safe alternative for children who want to display their anger. Exercise, hitting a ball or even quiet relaxation can help dissipate anger if this is a problem.  Talk about these safe alternatives with your child.

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