I won't lie. There is no miracle cure on how to stop tantrums. There are, however, a few things that just might help.
When my son was three, he was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine. Not far from where we lived was a railway, where real trains had been made up to look like the ones in the story. They were all painted the right colors, blue for Thomas, red for James, green for Henry, and they had faces, too.
I can still remember his little face and the delight in his voice ‘Look, Mummy, its Thomas!’
We had a lovely afternoon, but then it was time to go.
“Come on Joe, time to go home now.”
He was having none of it.
I even tried to bribe him…
“When we get home you can watch your favorite Thomas video.”
Then, I tried empathy.
“I know it’s horrible that we have to go home now, I wish we could stay longer too.”
I tried to reason.
“The station is closing now, we are not allowed to stay any longer.”
It all fell on deaf ears, and at last, I had to pick him up and attempt to get him into the car.
Well, he had the most stratospheric tantrum. Anyone would think I was the bogeyman trying to kidnap an innocent child and force him into my vehicle against his will.
Thank goodness no one batted an eyelid as I tried to peel his hands from the car door and force his little body, which had gone as straight and stiff as a board, down into the car seat, then wrestle to get the buckles done up while all the time trying to duck flailing arms and legs, and keep my cool!
If you are a parent of little ones it’s likely that you may have to deal with the occasional or even daily tantrum. There is actually quite a lot you can do to prevent/reduce them.
How to Stop Tantrums
Here are some strategies that worked for our family in helping our kids with big feelings.
Have Predictable Routines
Little kids love routine, it makes them feel safe and secure, keep it simple, for example, breakfast, play, time outdoors, more play, story time, lunch, nap, pick up siblings from school, park, home, play, tea, wind down time bath, book, bed.
You get the idea.
Of course there will be days that are different, but now you’ve got a tiny human you will most likely totally understand why your friends who were Mums before you, used to be so precious about protecting nap time, ‘Sorry can’t meet you at that time, little Billy / Sophie / Charlie will be asleep.
‘No you can’t have another biscuit, ooh quick look there’s a rabbit in the garden’ (no rabbit? then go outside and look for one!)
This one is really useful when your child is very young, they are usually easily distracted, requires quick thinking though!
Don't Say No
Try not to use the word ‘no’ too often though, being told no all the time is very frustrating and may lead to more tantrums.
Tune In To Your Child
Spend as much quality time with your child as you can. Not only will you be meeting a very important need, but it will help you to really tune into your child, and to understand what makes them tick. Children’s more difficult behaviors will often improve when a parent simply spends more time with them.
Look After You
Children are little sponges, they will soak up the emotions of the adults around them. How you feel can have an effect on how your child feels and therefore on their behavior. If Mummy or Daddy is stressed, depressed, anxious, or angry it can be impossible for children to understand what is going on, they are only just learning about their own emotions.
Looking after yourself is not a luxury, it’s vital. If you are not ok, parenting is much harder, so never be afraid to ask for help.
Tried all this and your child still has a tantrum?
Stay calm, don’t try to reason with your child once the storm has hit, your child can’t hear you. If you feel stressed about the situation, step away for a few minutes, but always be sure to reconnect with a cuddle when they have calmed down.
Little Joe fell asleep in the car on the way home. I remember looking at his sweet little face in the rear view mirror, and thinking to myself ‘Just another day in Parents ville.’
About the Author
Jane Rogers is a UK based Parent Coach/Writer and founder of The Cambridge Parent Coach. Jane is passionate about Positive Parenting and aims to share the ethos and ideas of this style of parenting with all parents. Her two parent workbooks: ‘How to Encourage Good Behaviour So You Can Enjoy Your Children’ and ‘How to Use Positive Discipline to Improve Your Child’s Behaviour’ are available on Amazon Follow The Cambridge Parent Coach on Facebook