Temper Tantrums are useless. At least they should be. They should not be given the power to control behavior.
Yet many parents feel trapped by their kids’ temper tantrums and begin the downward spiral of giving in to them, which only insures that they will happen again.
Temper tantrums do not have to reign supreme in your home, in youth sports, or anywhere in public (where kids know they have the most power, because no parent likes to be embarrassed by a kid throwing a temper tantrum in public).
Steps to Dealing with Temper Tantrums
- Don’t answer a tantrum with a tantrum. Whatever you have to do, keep your cool. Answering a tantrum with a tantrum resolves no issues. When people are throwing tantrums to each other, they are no communicating and they are not listening.
- Listen to the person, not the tantrum. Sort through all the emotion and try to pinpoint what your child is really trying to say. Maybe their words aren’t saying what’s really at the root of the problem, but their emotions are.
- Have a tantrum plan in place. Decide right now what your strategy will be when your child throws a tantrum, no matter where you are. It might be taking his hand or picking him up and guiding him to a quiet place. It might be simply ignoring it. It might be holding his face steady and looking into his eyes as you speak firm, loving words. Whatever tactic you choose, stick with it.
- Use the time-out in sports too. If your child has taken his temper tantrums into youth sports, ask the coach to support you in your battle to curb this behavior. Make him sit the bench until he cools down and apologizes to his team and coach.
- Don’t feed the beast. Temper tantrums are like beasts. If you feed them by bribing, appeasing, giving in, the beast will only grow. If you starve it by ignoring it and by not giving it any power at all, then it will die a slow but sure death.
“When you have valuable employees or customers (or kids) who throw tantrums, that might be a sign that there’s something wrong with your systems,” says entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin. “The most basic way to decrease tantrums is to find the trigger moments and catch the tantrum before it starts.”
In Seth’s corporate world, temper tantrums cost money and inhibit efficiency. In your home–or in youth sports–they are an embarrassment, an inconvenience, and an unhealthy way to solve problems. When temper tantrums rule, no one wins.
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