Tantrums and meltdowns can test the very last nerve of every parent.
Children who experience meltdowns are reacting to their environment in a negative manner. Meltdowns can raise blood pressure, cause headaches and stomachaches, and upset everyone involved.
There are a few things you can do to handle tantrums effectively. First, it is important to understand that tantrums are learned behaviors, which means you can help your child unlearn this type of behavior by teaching them the proper tools they need in order to communicate better.
DON’T FEED TENSIONS
It is important to stay calm and rational during a meltdown. Calm behavior can be felt and seen by an upset child, which can assist them in calming down. By remaining calm, you show your child by example how to handle this type of stressful situation with poise and adult like behavior.
ADDRESS ANXIETY LEVELS
Your role during a tantrum is to listen. Take a deep breath, quiet yourself, and repeat slowly what your child says so that they know you are listening. A calm manner can reduce the flood of anxiety your child is feeling, which can help them calm down.
TRY REASONING LATER
Your child is not present at this moment. Don’t try to reason with your child if they are not able to at the moment. Teach your child to talk about frustration or to use words. Use caution when trying to “make” them come to their senses. They are only reacting in a childlike way to things they can’t express through speech.
REINFORCE POSITIVE BEHAVIOR
Acknowledgment of positive behavior is key to helping curb tantrums. This sheds a desired light on being good and receiving praise for positive behavior. Acknowledging the good can help your child understand that throwing a tantrum will not get the desired reaction.
GIVE THEM SPACE
Trying to talk to, correct, or interfere while your child is very upset can only make things worse. Try giving your child some space and do not acknowledge the bad behavior. Reacting to emotional overload will have no effect. It is best to wait until they can be calm and understanding once more. Forcing a child to sit or listen during a meltdown can stress out both the child and parent more.
Michelle Dell’Aquila is a licensed therapist and the director of Child Development Advice, an educational consulting agency. Sh can be reached at childdevelopmentadvice.com