Reducing Child Temper Tantrums
Recently one of my counseling clients, a girl age six, began a temper tantrum in the waiting room of my office. She was really getting wound up and beginning to cry loudly and demand something of her mother. Her mother’s correct reply was “no” but the little girl didn’t accept it and wanted her way (something she is known for). The mother had reported to me that the little girl can get so mad when she is told “no”that she will hit, and even bite, her mother.
What ensued in my waiting room helped me to clarify how to help resolve this issue. In an effort to help the child calm down, the mother stuck to her “no”, however, she began a compassionate attempt to calm the child. She was explaining, bargaining and rationalizing her “no”. The child was getting a lot of attention from her mother. Negative attention is better than little or none so the child continued her tantrum. Her older brother even stood up and attempted to calm his sister down.
The child could not see me as I was in my office. I silently mouthed to the mother sit down! She did grabbing her son to sit next to her and both turned to the TV in my waiting room. I called to the child that it was her turn to talk to me. The child reluctantly walked in and sat down still crying. I never referred to this behavior and began asking her what the best thing was that had happened to her in the past week. She immediately stopped crying and began talking excitedly about field day at her school.
Attention Needs and Child Temper Tantrums
Children are “energy magnet” they want attention. We want to give them attention when the behavior and attitude are good, feed that energy! Praise them, give them “high fives” and tell them how proud you are of their attitude/behavior. However, when the behavior or attitude is inappropriate we must avoid giving them our energy. Our energy includes our looking at them, talking to them, touching them and even giving facial expressions that show our dissatisfaction with them. State one time what you want/need from them, then move away from the child. Let them wind down those temper tantrums on their own.
Ten minutes later after a lovely conversation with the little girl on everything but the tantrum, I told her how very proud I was of her for managing her own emotions and calming herself down. She beamed. She’s starting to learn what a lot of adults have not yet learned: we are each responsible for our own emotions. We can decide how long we want to spend in anger, sadness or fear.[Editor’s™Note: Sharon Scott has a wonderful book for parents on how to encourage responsible behavior titled Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing Responsible Behavior, 2nd Ed.]
Copyright © 2016, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.
P.S. Please see my other column Encourage Your Child’s Passion.
The guide for parents/educators on how to peer-proof children and teens is Peer Pressure Reversal: An Adult Guide to Developing a Responsible Child, 2nd Ed.
Her popular book for teens, How to Say No and Keep Your Friends, 2nd Ed., empowers kids to stand out,not just fit in!
A follow-up book for teens, When to Say Yes! And Make More Friends, shows adolescents how to select and meet quality friends and, in general, feel good for doing and being good.
Sharon also has a charming series of five books for elementary-age children each teaching an important living skill and "co-authored" with her savvy cocker spaniel Nicholas who makes the learning fun.Their book on managing elementary-age peer pressure is titled Too Smart for Trouble.