Avoid Temper Tantrums & Reduce Stress
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Avoid Temper Tantrums – When your kid is throwing a fit, there’s got to be times when you think, “Wow. There’s got to be something wrong with that kid.”
But no, it’s totally natural, in most cases anyway.
It’s normal for kids to have temper tantrums, and they are most common between the ages of 1 and 3.
This is just the way that kids deal with being upset or frustrated before they know how to cope with these types of emotions.
The fact that you know it is a normal part of child development is comforting, it doesn’t really help when your kid is screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of the Supercenter because they didn’t get the toy they wanted.
That is why this post has been compiled just for you.
You are about to learn 7 simple steps that you can take to avoid temper tantrums, for the most part, and start reducing the stress in your life today!
Before moving forward, understand that you’re not going to read this post and these temper tantrums are just going to magically stop.
This is all about working with and educating your child to teach him or her to better communicate the emotions that they have as well as to react to what they don’t like in a better, quieter, more controlled fashion.
Eventually kids usually develop these skills on their own, especially as they begin to comprehend how to communicate more clearly.
However, there are some simple things that you can do to both speed along this process and avoid situations that might set off a tantrum while you are waiting for them to reach a higher level of maturity.
Let’s start with something easy.
This is the oldest and simplest trick in the book, but honestly, it’s an art lost to many of us.
We get so frustrated and aggravated by the noise and erratic behavior, that we’re kind of in a state of shock, and we don’t think fast enough to realize that a little bit of distraction would have solved the whole problem before it started or stopped it before it got worse.
You probably remember a couple of different people doing this to the smaller kids around you when you were a kid.
It’s kind of an old-school trick that people don’t really think to use anymore, at least not as often as they used to.
Imagine you’re sitting in your living room with a friend and a little toddler is running straight for some hot coffee on the table, and your quick-witted friend kicks a ball lightly across the floor, it distracts the child, and they start running after the ball instead.
You both laugh, your heartbeat slows down, and you and your friend start talking once again.
Now, why did that work? It worked because kids distract easily.
They have short attention spans. It’s likely that you’ve used this trick a number of different times yourself, but you might not utilize it as much as you should. Now, let’s say that you are in the store and your child has grabbed a toy off of the shelf.
You’ve been content to let them play with it while you shopped, but now you’re thinking “How in the heck am I going to take that away without my kid throwing a huge fit right in the middle of this store?”
The answer to that question is simple.
Do a bait and switch.
Offer your child something that they would be interested in, and while they are reaching for that, grab the toy really quick before they notice.
With smaller toddlers, you can usually use a set of keys or something of the like.
Older kids might not be easily distracted by anything less than candy. The point is to pull their attention elsewhere while you get the toy out of the cart.
That’s not the only way to take advantage of your little one’s cute little attention span.
Singing a song to them, for example, while you’re walking by the candy aisle might keep their attention long enough to keep them from seeing it, for example.
Or, maybe you are at home and you know your child is about to throw a fit because some other kid is playing with his toy.
So, instead of just letting it happen, you turn on some cartoons, or even tell them both to follow you into the other room to play a brand new game.
There’s lots of things you can do. It just takes a small amount of forethought, a bit of creativity, and some good timing.
The best thing to do, of course, is to distract the child before they have a chance to get upset, but if you can’t, you can even use distraction when they are throwing a fit.
It just might take a bigger, flashier attention-getter than it would otherwise.
The worst thing that you can do, no matter how stressed out you get, is to start yelling or acting erratic too.
All that’s going to teach them is that this is socially acceptable behavior, a way to get attention, and a way to get their way. That’s the last thing that you want.
This goes for other times as well. Remember, you create your child’s world.
If they see a lot of fighting or yelling in their day-to-day lives, they are going to think that’s the right way to react when things don’t go their way.
Now, we all lose our cool from time time, and there might be times that you find yourself yelling at the kids when you come into the room and there’s food spilled everywhere or something like that.
At these times you’ve really got to control yourself and think about whether you are teaching them the right way to handle the situation.
This can be tough to do.
There might be times, for instance, when you’re driving in the car and someone cuts you off. It may take all of your strength not to start yelling about how stupid that driver is, but you do have to think “Is that really how I want to teach my child to react?”
Here’s an example given by A-Better-Child.org:
“Children often learn without a parent’s realizing it. For example, it’s not unusual for a mother to overhear her four-year-old child scolding a younger sister or brother or a doll in the same sharp tones that she herself uses when scolding the children.
Such unintentional influences are just as powerful as those we carefully plan.” (Pitzer)
One of the worst things that you can do when a child throws a fit is to give them what they want just to get them to be quiet and stop.
Now, there’s no doubt that this is tempting, and that’s where a lot of people fail when it comes to raising their children.
What you need to realize is that if you give in, you’re rewarding that behavior and reinforcing it.
That means that they will be doing a lot of fit throwing in the future that you’re going to have to deal with because you taught them that they can, indeed, get their way by doing it.
When your kid throws a fit for something they want, the best thing to do is tell them straight out, “You’re not going to get anything from me when you’re acting that way,” or maybe if they are throwing a fit to go somewhere, you might say “We aren’t going anywhere until you stop acting that way”.
The simple fact of the matter is that people, by nature, do what gets them what they want the fastest and the quickest. It’s no different with little kids. If you let it work for them, then you’re just asking for more trouble.
This leads into the next point.
Kids want attention, and if they can’t get good attention, they will settle for bad attention.
Sometimes we get so busy that we only really pay attention is when we walk into a room and see that they have torn something up or have made a mess. In more serious cases, this will make a kid misbehave for attention.
Even if that’s not the case exactly, understand that any kind of reward or praise for bad behavior is going to essentially train them to continue acting that way.
So, if you are paying them attention when they whine and cry, you’re sending them the message that this is how to get your attention, whether they are really trying to or not.
At the same time, you need to make the effort to reward or praise your child when they are acting the way you want them to.
For example, if you notice your child playing quietly and staying out of trouble, praise them for it and give them the attention that they desire. (Karp, 2010)
Here’s another example. Let’s say that you tell your child to put something back on the shelf that you know that they want, but they actually do it without arguing.
That’s a great time to tell them how proud you are of them and maybe even take your child out for an ice cream cone.
You need to understand that when your child is throwing a fit, they are literally not in their right mind.
At this time, his emotions have taken over, and the front part of his brain, the part that makes him think logically, isn’t working.
Therefore, there’s nothing that you can do to teach them that what they are doing is wrong at that moment. So, the best thing to do right at this moment is just ignore them. (Dreisbach, 2015)
It’s hard not to get emotionally involved when there’s so much screaming and yelling going on. It’s natural for you to both angry and feel sorry for the child.
You might even have mixed emotions and feel both ways.
Or, you might even find it amusing. No matter how you feel, however, you need to completely ignore the behavior, and the worst thing that you can do is give in or reinforce that behavior in some way.
According to Autism-help.org, this is the appropriate action to take, even if you have a child with autism. They recommend that (whether your child has autism or not) you use a counting procedure to help ensure that you don’t give in.
They recommend the following:
“Whenever and wherever a tantrum occurs, it must be completely ignored.
This means no positive or negative attention. The tantrum should be treated as if it did not exist and that it will change nothing for the good or bad in your child’s life.
Do not look at your child (except out of the corner of your eye to assure your child’s safety).
Do not talk to your child, correct your child, yell at your child, reason with your child, comment on the tantrum, or explain your actions to your child.
Do not touch your child (except to protect him from harming himself, others, or property).
Step over your child if you have to. No hugs, spankings, pats, squeezes, etc. Do not give your child anything to distract him, especially the item he is tantrumming for.” (Heffner)
Now, you don’t want to rearrange the whole world so that your kid doesn’t throw a fit, but seriously, save yourself a bit of trouble.
If you know that there’s something is going to cause your child to throw a fit, take it out of sight or hide it away.
What about if your child is tired? That may not be the best time to take them to the grocery store, right?
You can’t control their whole environment, particularly if they are outside of the house, but you can take action to decrease the likelihood that a fight is going to occur and save yourself some stress.
Another thing that you can do is avoid situations that would make a child frustrated, like giving them toys to play with that are too advanced for them.
It usually takes just a little bit of love and understanding.
One grandmother, named Shelly, noticed that her granddaughter, Lindsey, would throw a fit every time her mother picked her up.
Naturally, everyone just assumed that she just didn’t want to leave because she got “everything she wanted at Grandma’s”. The grandmother, however, knew something else was wrong.
She noticed that Lindsey had a tendency to throw fits when she was hit with things that she didn’t expect.
Shelly explained this to her daughter, Lindsey’s mother, and decided that instead of just coming and picking her up and taking her home, her mom would tell Lindsey that they would be leaving in a few minutes.
Then, after 15 minutes or so they would leave. As soon as they started this routine, Lindsey had no problem going home with her mother. She left calmly and happily, in fact.
You see? Sometimes you just need to take the time to know where your child is coming from. You don’t always need to make adjustments for them, but when small adjustments can hinder big explosions, it’s probably worth compromising.
The fact of the matter is that your child isn’t doing this to frustrate and embarrass you.
Help your child out. The best way to do so is to talk to him or her after the fit is over.
Not only will this give you a chance to explain why they can’t act that way, you’re actually showing them that the appropriate way to act is to talk things out calmly.
Often kids will get frustrated because they feel like they really don’t have any control over anything otherwise.
There’s a trick to this though. Don’t use open-ended option.
Give them a very simple choice that’s not overwhelming to make, like “Would you like to eat an apple or an orange?”, or “Would you rather play with your scooter inside or play with blocks in here?” It’s good for a child to be able to make choices on their own.
You should give them some control over little things.
Too many options can lead to fits because of frustration.
This could be because they can’t handle having too many choices.
However, it could open the door for other problems. For example, if you ask them a question like “Would you like to go inside?”, you might end up with a “no”, and then what are you going to do?
If you make them go inside after that, you’ll definitely going to have a fit on your hands.
You also need to take the time to help your child grow in the right ways. KidsHealth.org recommends the following:
“Help kids learn new skills and succeed. Help kids learn to do things.
Praise them to help them feel proud of what they can do. Also, start with something simple before moving on to more challenging tasks.” (Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, 2015)
Keep in mind that the reason for these fits is because your child doesn’t know how to handle his or her emotions yet and cannot communicate how they feel.
Now, on one hand, your child wants you to give in. Understand that.
However, on another, deeper level, they want you to be strong and reliable.
Kids love to have affection and attention, and of course they want to get their way, but they respect and are attracted to powerful, sturdy people.
So, be someone they can look up to as well as someone that loves and cares for them. (Debbie Pincus, 2015)
This topic has been discussed throughout this guide, but it’s so important that it needs to be covered in more detail. At the end of the day, you have to remember that we are all animals, even our precious little children.
Our behavior is highly dependant upon the rewards we receive.
First and foremost, understand that negative reinforcement does not mean punishment.
If you punished someone, you are trying to decrease a behavior by taking a negative action.
When using negative reinforcement, you are trying to increase a certain behavior through something negative.
For example, if your kid cleans their room because they don’t want to hear what you have to say about how dirty it is, that’s a product of negative reinforcement.
An example of positive reinforcement would be giving your child candy for being good in the store, which by the way, is an excellent way to get them to not throw fits in public.
Just wait until the end of the shopping trip to give your reward, and only reward your child if he or she truly did what you asked of them.
So, whether you’re using negative or positive reinforcement, you are trying to increase a response. Positive reinforcement works very well for little children, and really, it’s what they need.
This will help your child to:
- Make better choices
- Have higher self-esteem
- Feel affirmed
- Develop better
- Be better motivated
Again, positive reinforcement should not be used at the time that a child is throwing a fit. You don’t want to tell a child “Please stop crying.
Mommy will take you for an ice cream if you stop crying.” Right? Instead, you need to find ways to reward your children, with love and affection as well as other things, when you see them acting appropriately or when you notice a positive change in their behavior.
When it comes to your kids, it’s essential that you stay consistent.
If they know that a time out is what they get for throwing a fit, be sure to stick with that.
On the other hand, if you tell a child that they aren’t going to get anything at the store unless they behave, then you need to stick to that too.
You may think that your child is so young that it’s not going to matter, but truthfully, that’s when it matters the most. Children need consistency. Period.
A lot of parents make the mistake of punishing a child for something one day and then letting it slide the next. There’s nothing more confusing that you can put your child through.
Furthermore, if you never know what you’re going to get in trouble for and what you aren’t, why would it make any difference to you if you behave.
You might get in trouble, and you might not, but then again, you might get in trouble for something totally different next.
EmpoweringParents.com gives a good analogy too. Here’s what the site has to say:
“Look at it this way: what if two and two didn’t always make four?
How would your child learn addition if the rules were always changing?
If that was the case, he would never learn how to solve math equations correctly or adapt his learning to tackle more complex problems.
This learning process is called ‘internalization’ because your child takes it from the outside in; it becomes part of him on the inside.“ (James Lehman, 2015)
As a parent, this is one of the hardest things to tackle. This is the reason why so many parents have to tell their kids the same things over and over again with no results.
You have to hold your child accountable for their actions, and they should be able to predict exactly what will occur if they don’t do what they are told because you have stayed so consistent. Now, this is a challenge, there’s no doubt.
However, if you can get a few things across to your child a few times consistently, it will keep you from having to deal with the same stressful things over and over again.
PS…We hope you enjoyed this post on how to avoid temper tantrums and if so, please like and share it.
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