You have been there, I know you have. You see it starting before you hear it: the furrowed brow, the reddening of the face, and the fists balling up…you are about to witness a temper tantrum!
Before I had a child of my own, I stupidly thought parents were the ones to blame if their kids had a tantrum in public. Ha ha! Then I had a child and was mortified when my own dear one pulled that stunt in a restaurant…and for no apparent reason either
But now, my little one is a bit over three and we rarely have a tantrum anymore. I learned from moms of well-behaved young children that temper tantrums do not have to be a normal thing! So I listened aptly to all the information I could get and then watched my child’s behavior. Their tips? Diffuse the situation, have consistent consequences, and hug a lot.
I learned from moms of well-behaved young children that temper tantrums do not have to be a normal thing!
Here is how to handle temper tantrums at home, in public, and at daycare or school:
We realized as soon as we didn’t react to the temper tantrum, it dissipated quickly. So we would send our toddler to her room (when younger it was the crib), told her in a quiet, but firm, tone, “When you have calmed down you can come out.” and then shut the door. We went on with our life, but checked in on her from time to time to make sure she was still safe. Lo and behold, my nice child returned!
When she was older, we let her know such behavior had consequences such as no treats or electronics. That sometimes would set her off again, but if you don’t “stick to your guns” when they are little, they will not respect boundaries when they are older. When the tantrum was completely over, we gave out hugs and continued our routine.
Here it gets a bit trickier. It’s not like you can say to your child, “Go to your room!” So you have to remove them from the situation entirely to give them a type of emotional reset. At a restaurant, my husband and I would take our red-faced daughter either to the car or just outside and walk. Most of the time, she would calm down quickly. If the behavior ceased, we would attempt to return to the table or the store. Of course, we had our share of time when only one of us eating or leaving a place after having just arrived. But the consequences were the same: Something was withheld that she might have wanted. But we always followed up with a hug and an “I love you.”
At Daycare or School
This, I think, is the most difficult to master because you are not with your child. However, consequences can still be enforced at home when misbehavior happens somewhere else. It has allowed me to communicate to my daughter the importance of treating everyone with the same respect. And if she misbehaves, the same consequences occur regardless.
I recently found out she had been acting out in Sunday School, and I was mortified. However, my child is old enough to remember her poor behavior so we talked about it. I reminded her of what would happen if she did it again and finished it off with a hug and an “I love you.”
As time has progressed, I now correct wrong behavior by “heading it off at the pass.” I have found the best way to do so is to plan ahead. Tell your toddler what is going to transpire in the next few hours. Have realistic expectations of your toddler. And finally, have a grab bag of stuff to keep their attention. I still have a huge purse I fill full of books and drawing supplies as well as learning apps on my phone and toys. And if I know it is going to be a long time where I need her to be extra good, her security blanket must be on hand.
It has not always been easy, but we remained consistent. Now our daughter sends herself to her room when she’s in trouble! It makes us laugh. But she stops crying quickly and joins us once again, running up to give us a hug and tells us, “I love you!” What more can I ask for after that?
What are some of your most creative ways for dealing with tantrums?