It’s one of those days where it feels like you just can’t win. It’s been battle after battle with your toddler/child and no matter what the incident it ends in a similar way. Kicking, screaming, red in the face squealing tantrums, which leave you standing there in complete awe. Wondering, pondering and racking your brain trying to figure out how the heck this vicious cycle started? At what point in our lives did it come to this? You ask yourself if it’s something you’re doing or if it’s just because you got the luck of the draw with a really stubborn child? To be honest, the answer can be yes to both of these questions to some degree. I’m not saying you’re a bad parent, because you aren’t, but there are things we all do as parents that we don’t realize we are doing, myself included. I can also answer yes, to you maybe having a stubborn child, because every child is born with a their own temperament. Some more stubborn and strong-willed than others and sometimes the way we parent can tame or enhance these qualities. So, today I offer you 3 tantrum stopping strategies to help ease your pain and your child’s.
As amazing as it may sound, kids actually do not misbehave just to spite you. Their misbehaviours actually have purpose and a goal in mind. They are feeling some sense of discouragement and are looking to gain attention, power or both when these negative behaviours surface. If you are dealing with constant struggles or tantrums then it’s time to look at our current parenting style and see if we can make a few changes to help decrease the struggle and help increase your child’s sense of power and autonomy.
TIP #1: Ask and Don’t Tell!
An ‘asking parent’ is much more successful in winning their child’s cooperation then a ‘telling parent.’ A ‘telling parent’ is one that is barking orders, nagging and overall over-powering. This causes our kids to get the back up, dig their heels in and battle to gain control over their own lives. An ‘asking parent’ comes across more respectful and considerate. Making your child feel less over-powered and more in control of their own life and choices. For example: Instead of saying “set the table” or “go get your shoes on,” try saying, “I could really use your help setting the table if you have a minute.” OR “We need to leave for school in 5 minutes do you think you could get your shoes on so we can go?” Give it a try and see what happens. If your child doesn’t cooperate straight away, don’t give up. Keep asking and with time your kids will earn your respect and will desire to cooperate and help out.
TIP #2: When-Then Routines
When you need your child to get ready for school, get their shoes and coat on or brush their teeth we want them to just do it! To help make these tasks and others a success, it’s important to first ask and not tell like we spoke about above. A trick to make this happen is to set up when-then routines. For example: to get out of the house each morning your kids need to eat breakfast, get dressed, pack their backpack and put on their coat and shoes. They are refusing and each day this is a battle. To eliminate the battle let your kids know in advance that, “from now on WHEN you get done with your morning routine (make a chart for reference) THEN you can watch a show.” The formula is When (X)- Then (Y) where X is everything you need them to complete and the Y is anything they desire. It’s important to make Y something they truly desire or enjoy, otherwise there won’t be any drive to cooperate and do the tasks at hand.
TIP #3: Decide What YOU Will Do and Offer EITHER- OR Choices
We can’t force our kids to physically do anything. When we try and force we are engaging in the power struggle and therefore increasing the tantrum intensity. Try deciding what YOU will do and when your child does not cooperate with the task you need them to do, offer them an EITHER-OR choice. How does this look? Your toddler is refusing to put their clothes in the hamper and continues to throw them all over the floor. You need them to put their clothes in the hamper and get in the bath. It’s a meltdown and you feel stuck. Here is where you give them 2 choices. “EITHER you put your clothes in the hamper OR we won’t be able to have our stories tonight.” Give them the choice but be firm, clear and sure that they hear you. Then you must, and I mean must, follow through. No matter how hard it is, with crazy bedtime tears and pouty faces, it’s important to show them that you mean what you say. By doing this, next time they will learn to make better choices. They will learn that their actions have consequences. These are lessons that will help you and your child along the way and act as life-long skills.
So we have 3 tantrum stopping strategies to help get you on your way to a less power struggled day! Try implementing one at a time to not overwhelm you or your child. Don’t look for all problems to diminish immediately, but do look for the intensity and frequency of the tears, screams and tantrums to decrease. This is your barometer! I hope you find some peace with the tools I’ve offered above!
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