Endless hours spent indoors has seen some award-winning tantrums from the city’s toddlers. ODETTE UMALI of Gordon Parenting shares her expert advice.
Type “how to handle tantrums” into Google and you’ll find around 2.5 million search results. It’s truly a confusing issue. Understandably, it’s also a very important topic for parents of young kids, especially first-time parents – with or without a global pandemic! Try these proven tips to help manage tantrums in your home.
Know when a tantrum is approaching. You might see clenched fists, a firm stand, staring, stomping or more. Try any – or a combination – of the following tactics to find one that works best for your child:
Use calming techniques.Be present, attend to your child. Get close, go low to their level and maintain eye contact. Give them your full attention, empathise and talk in a soothing voice.
Actively listen and describe their feelings. Put your child’s feelings into words, such as, “You really like that toy.” Sometimes, just acknowledging your child’s feelings and needs will head off a meltdown.
Distract and redirect. For very young kids, this can work. When a tantrum is building up, you could say, “Let’s go play with the dog.” Don’t over-control or over-react. Spanking or yelling will backfire.
You have limited control at this point. Ensure your child is safe and not hurting others or damaging any property. Try these survival tips:
Try to keep calm. If you’re unable to stay calm, ask another adult to be around the child while you step away. Don’t try reasoning with them. It can make the outburst worse.
Concentrate only on your child. Tantrums in public or in the presence of others can be embarrassing. But your priority is your child. Be consistent. It will likely happen again once they know you will give in to outbursts.
Be consistent with your response and tell others (helper, grandparents) to follow your lead.
Take a mindful, even analytical, assessment of the incident. The following guidelines will help:
Identify the triggers and manage around it. If tantrums happen when one parent leaves the house, try changing the activities you do before that parent leaves. Or, start preparations way earlier.
Reinforce efforts of your child to communicate their feelings. Acknowledge them when they ask for help instead of having an outburst. Help them label their feelings. If you don’t name it, you can’t tame it!
Check how you handled tantrums. The parent is the adult in the relationship and should be the one who is calm, composed and modelling temper control.
Gordon Parenting hosts Parent Effectiveness Classes (PET) courses in Hong Kong. gordonparenting.com