Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Stopping Tantrums Before they Start

It starts around the time your child hits two years old. It can be known as the "terrible twos". I prefer to call it the "Terrific Two's." It can be frustrating while you are there but take another look. Look at everything your child is discovering on there own. They learn that if they stack this on that they can get way up there to get the candy/cookies. They learn that if lotion feels really good on their hands then it must feel good all over their body and the dogs too. They can also learn to cry and scream in the right manner to get exactly what they want. This age is where they train mom and dad to giving in by throwing a tantrum. You know you have seen it, crying, whaling, gnashing of teeth, and sometimes there is kicking and flailing on the ground. If you see this on a regular basis they have trained you well. If you never see this behavior then you do not need to keep reading. The trick to dealing with tantrums is stopping them before they begin.

You need to understand what the triggers are for your child. If it is sweets and cookies, make sure they are out of sight. Out of sight out of mind definitely plays a big part in the early years. Kids usually want everything they see (except the vegetables on their dinner plate). The biggest things children want is autonomy. They want to do everything them self and be in control of everything around them. When they hear "no" they are not getting to control and that little word is enough of a trigger to get them in full tantrums. So, the key is making your child feel like they are in control even though you really are. Give your child lots of acceptable choices. Here is an example:

(you're at the park with your child)
Mom: It's time to go. Let's
Child: No. I don't want to go.
Mom: We need to go now. We've been here
long enough.
Child: (now crying) I don't want to go.
Mom: (chasing child
around the playground) Come here now so we can leave. If you don't.......
(finally catch child)
Child: (full an tantrum ensues,and everyone at the park
is staring)

Here is an example of using choices

Mom: (15 minutes before it is time to go) It's getting time to go,
would you like to leave now or in 15 minutes?
Child: 15 minutes!
Mom: (15
minutes later) Okay, it's time to go.
Child: But I want to stay
Mom: I know but remember I gave you the choice to leave or stay 15
minutes? The 15 minutes is up and now it is time to go.
Child: okay
Would you like to hop like a bunny to the car or gallop like a horse?
And they happily hop to the car.

All your child really wants is control so give choices as much as possible. There will come times when there are no choices. Just remind your child you give them choices all day long and this time it is your turn to make the choice. Early childhood is for learning boundaries and they will test you all the time. Remain firm and you will be tested less and less. Give in and they will continue to test you.

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