Tips for parents: how to minimize tantrums
During the first stage of a child’s development, different phases can be observed and experienced. One of them, and perhaps the most complicated to carry, are the tantrums that affect parents so much.
These temper tantrums or outbursts are part of a child’s normal behavior . This phase usually manifests itself for the first time in the first year and can last up to three or four years. But, before taking to the extreme the concern of the parents, it is important to understand that they are acting according to their age and it is necessary to understand why these reactions occur to help overcome this period.
When starting this process of reflection, the following question should be asked: are these tantrums good for the child? The answer is yes. The book What can be expected in the second year (2011), by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel, teaches us what is hidden behind these tantrums and the reasons why these can be beneficial for the child’s growth process:
- They need to let go of their frustration . A child’s attempts to achieve something are impeded, either by not being able to pick up the piece of the puzzle, by badly buttoning a shirt or by being unable to say what they require.
- They need to communicate . Many children still do not have the necessary linguistic skills to communicate correctly, so for them a tantrum is their way of expressing themselves.
- They need to establish their autonomy. They seek to be able to act independently and feel like one, to demonstrate that what they want is important.
- Lack of control in your own life They always tell them what they should and should not do, and about their own emotions, because when they get out of control, they do too.
How to avoid tantrums
Although there are no exact formulas to definitively get rid of these outbreaks, the book proposes a series of patterns with which you can try to prevent them from arising or becoming more delicate. “Start your prevention program by tracking your child’s temper tantrums for one or two weeks, noting when they occur and why,” the authors suggest.
In this way, knowing in advance the triggers of their behavior, it will be easier to modify or eliminate them, through the following guidelines:
- Establish a regular schedule for your child . Meals, naps, and other daily routines will help reduce the risk of tantrum.
- Let it rest properly . You have to make sure you get enough sleep, both during naps and at night.
- Provide enough energy . We must offer you the nutritious snacks necessary to avoid the crises caused by hunger.
- Do not give in or abuse the “no” . The negativity of parents can cause many tantrums. Sometimes you have to say “yes” or offer an acceptable alternative, always establishing clear and reasonable limits. But you should not give in to a tantrum , since then you would be transmitting the wrong message to your child about what you can get what you want if you scream.
- Balance in control over it . You can not control everything a child eats, wears or does because this can cause a rebellion on their part. But an excessive and unlimited freedom can also cause tantrums. It is about giving your child options so that he feels he can make some decisions for himself.
- Fight your frustration. You have to make an effort to understand the child and listen to him / her to know when he / she needs help from his / her parents and thus be able to offer it only if necessary. If the child explodes in the middle of an outbreak, he should teach him to calm feelings of anger by expressing it through words or by diverting his attention to something more interesting, such as a toy, a book, a song or a hug to appease him.
How to face them
Given these manifestations of bad temper on the part of the little ones, there are no techniques that permanently eliminate the temper tantrums of the children, but it is possible to moderate these behaviors or minimize them. For this, you have to know what you have to do and what you have to avoid.
What to do?
- Stay calm . If the child sees that the parents lose their calm, this will only make it harder for them to calm down. “Your child should see him as a model of maturity and anchor of stability”, the authors point out.
To help control nerves in the face of a child’s crisis, follow a series of tips that will help keep you Calm. In the first place, we must get rid of the bad temper so common in parents who have been subjected to a certain type of pressure, tension or personal problems and that can affect their way of reacting to these conflicts. It is important to avoid the big confrontations in the small tantrums and reserve them for the strongest tantrums. When these occur, a crucial aspect to be able to face them is to take a break , count to ten and take a deep breath as soon as the parents think they are going to explode; vent and express themselves, but moderating the words. If, at any given moment, the situation makes them excessively angry, you have to get away from the child and download that aggression on an object or doing another activity. Another option to alleviate the anger is to call a family member or friend by telephone and tell them what happened.
The advice of Murkoff and Mazel is firm: “do not forget to show only the behaviors that you would want your son to imitate during an outbreak of fury”.
- Speak without raising your voice . Shouting louder than your child when he screams will only serve to raise the voice volume even more, since he is looking to be the center of attention. It is best to use a soft and calm tone so that the child sees that he has not lost his nerves.
- Protect your child (from him and from others) . This is especially important if the tantrums occur in public places, since then, it is recommended to move the child to the car or the stroller until it calms down. If it happens at home, just sit on the bed, preventing it from causing damage to objects or hurting yourself or others.
- Try to catch it . Catching them firmly during one of their outbursts of bad temper can help them to let the rage fade, especially if this happens to an affectionate hug. However, not all children are so receptive and can become even more infuriated. Therefore, if your child does not want to be caught, do not insist. It is essential to express empathy towards them and understand their frustration.
- Distraction maneuvers . Showing your favorite story or song, a toy or proposing to do something fun and make faces can be effective for the little one to forget his anger.
- Ignore the tantrum . Shrieks and tantrums can mean a simple wake-up call and if you see that your parents ignore it, you may miss it earlier. On the contrary, if your child is going through a bad stage or is very sensitive, do not ignore it.
What not to do?
- Punish him . These behaviors are specific to children and they can not control them and it is not their fault that they act in this way, so they should not be punished when these tantrums occur. Much less if it is physical punishment, such as hitting, slap or hurt him, since it only brings consequences that could become dangerous.
- Stressed . Do not worry if you can not appease the child, because in the end, when your child has relieved a little, the tantrum will disappear.
- Reason or argue with him . “The logic escapes them. Save the explanations for more rational moments “, the authors point out.
In addition to these suggestions, there are other reactions that should be avoided, such as using inappropriate words, since it is not about causing moral damage to the child, so parents have to moderate their language when faced with the child. But the most important thing is to see and know that it is the adults who have the situation controlled, who are calm and do not get carried away by the nerves of the tantrum .
Once past the moment of the tantrum, there is no need to punish the child more by removing a toy or forcing him to apologize, but it is best to praise him for having managed to calm down. Let’s not forget that this is a normal behavior in its development stage.
However, if these outbreaks of bad temper occur two or more times a day, this behavior may be due to another series of problems that affect the child. In these cases, it is best to consult with your doctor.
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