Try not to respond to tantrums (at any age)!
Tantrums are never a good way of dealing with emotions or of getting attention. Gaining a response from you is part of the desired outcome and, if achieved, will encourage a child to use the tactic again and again.
Little things matter
Deal with lesser issues. Allow children to test out the consequences of the little things so that they don’t have to go down the slippery slope towards testing out the bigger problems.
Help your child to learn from their mistakes
For example, if they haven’t done their homework for school, let them learn the consequences of their actions. If you agree to writing a letter of excuse to the teacher then you are actually condoning dishonesty and suggesting to your child that actions can be without consequence!
Talk about consequences rather than punishments
This helps to promote self discipline. Punishment is administered by another person in a position of authority whereas learning to consider the consequences of an action is a lesson in personal conscience. There may not always be a punishment to face but there is always a consequence, good or bad!
Keep consequences simple and prompt
Otherwise the connection between the behaviour and the consequence can be lost. There is also little incentive for a child to improve their behaviour if they see the punishment stretching out in front of them.
Your child needs to know that you mean what you say! Changes of mind should be an exception not a habit. However, realising when you are wrong, apologising and putting it right, is not a change of mind but is the modeling of exemplary behaviour.
“Do that and you’ll never have chocolate again!” is not realistic. You will not be able to follow through on this when you need to and your children will begin to think that you have no real authority, you don’t mean what you say and that there are no real consequences to anything they do.
Create meaningful consequences
In other words teach them to put things right. For example, cleaning up the mess they’ve made, or saving up to replace something they have damaged is much better than simply being grounded for a fortnight!
Never smack a child!
Hitting a child is not a good idea for anumber of reasons:
- It will make your child fear and dislike you rather than respect you!
- It sends the message that it’s okay to hit someone if you’re feeling angry or emotional!
Hitting someone because they have not done something you wanted them to do, or because they have made a mistake, is a terrible example to set!
Use low key reminders for low key misbehaviours
Tailor your response to the behaviour.
Don’t make a big deal of small things, just a raised eyebrow, or an ‘ahem’, might be sufficient.
Discipline your child discreetly whenever possible
Nobody likes to be humiliated in front of others! The embarrassment felt often causes a worse reaction and greater problems than might otherwise have occurred. When possible, it is good practice to take a child quietly to one side in public. The child will learn to respect and thank you for it!
Redirect attention when needed
This works well for young children. If you sense a tantrum brewing do something to take their mind off it. This can also work with older children. However, do be sure to return to the issue and talk it through with them when possible. As they grow up children have to deal with many things that might put them in a bad mood and need to learn how to respond in a healthy way.
Don’t act in haste
Prompt action is important, indeed necessary, for very young children in order that they are clear about the issue being dealt with. However, taking a moment to think things through carefully can make a big difference in the long run. Sometimes you may simply need time to calm down if you have been riled. Remember, your reactions are your issue to deal with not your child’s.