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Dealing with a child’s temper tantrum can be difficult for a parent to properly handle. There are many times when the tantrum occurs in public so it becomes a display for all to see. I’ve provided 10 common mistakes that either I’ve made or I have seen other parents make in the past. Tantrums don’t have to be frustrating. They can be a great opportunity to practice maintaining control, positive response, and reinforcing the behavior we want our kids to display.
As parents, we often think that the tantrums are about us, but they are not. They are about the child. We also need to remember that every child is different and no child will ever behave perfectly at all times of the day. Public tantrums can be embarrassing when they carry on for a long time. I have learned from 4 kids that my concern about what others think about the way my kids are behaving at the moment is non-existent. I know my kids aren’t going to always make the right choices, nor are they going to be on their best behavior at all times. I can ask them to and I can model the behavior, but they are still kids and they still need to be taught the proper way to handle problems.
When our kids throw tantrums it’s no fun. There’s screaming, crying, throwing, pouting, and the list could go on and on forever. But, there are ways to properly survive a tantrum without permanently screwing up your kids. I’ll start with these 10 no-nos and will solicit your experiences with tantrums.
What has been successful for your kids? What hasn’t? Share in the comments so we can get a good conversation going!
#1 – Making Empty Threats or Promises
Making empty threats or promises to a child throwing a tantrum just makes the situation worse. If you threaten to take away a toy or an activity in the heat of the moment and fail to follow through with the punishment, the child learns that he or she can misbehave with no consequences. If you tell your child you are taking away their bike for a week if he or she does not calm down, follow through with your threat and take away the bike for a week. Don’t give in and don’t give it back early. It is vital that kids learn that there are consequences for their actions and that you are holding them accountable to correcting their behavior.
#2 – Yelling or Screaming Back at the Child
Yelling or screaming at a child can be seriously detrimental to them, whether they are throwing a tantrum or not. As a parent, it is important to display the behavior we want our kids to mirror. Keeping cool and level-headed is vital in allowing a tantrum-throwing child the opportunity to calm down. It’s so easy for a parent to scream back at a child when he or she is screaming at the top of their lungs, but doing so means that the child will learn that it is appropriate to scream to get his or her way.
#3 – Reasoning with the Child
Although it is the parent’s job to listen and control the child’s tantrum, trying to reason with the child while he or she is in the middle of a meltdown simply does not work. It is better to let the meltdown pass and then reason with the child than to fight tooth and nail to get them to stop screaming/crying long enough to listen and think about the choices they have.
#4 – Asking the Child Questions
One of the most common mistakes parents make (including myself) is trying to ask a child questions during a tantrum. At this moment in time, the child is only focusing on gaining attention to try to get his or her way. I have found that when I ask my kids a question during a meltdown the usual response from them is “no” even though that what I’ve asked them is what they really want.
#5 – Leaving the Issue Unresolved
Many parents make the mistake of calming the child down from a tantrum only to not resolve the issue at hand. What does the child want? Are they upset because you told them “no” for something they asked for before the meltdown? The first step after the tantrum has subsided is to rationally talk to the child about why a rule or consequence has been put in place and what the expected behavior is.
#6 – Playing the Blame Game
Did your child break something? Did he or she get in a fight with brother or sister? Probably, but telling them it’s their fault they are in trouble will not help diffuse the situation. Although the child needs to take responsibility for what they have done, allow them to calm down first so that they are ready to listen. Blaming them does not help nor does it teach the child to learn how to forgive and forget.
#7 – Reacting Physically
Never, ever react physically to a child. Grabbing by the arm, spanking, or throwing objects is never a positive behavior to demonstrate. Always reinforce resolving conflict peacefully and by using words.
#8 – Issuing a Timeout
Timeouts seem to be all the rage these days. When I was a kid, the only time out I got was time out to think about what I did and the punishment that was looming. When a child is acting erratic, making him or her sit down for a timeout usually does not work.
#9 – Laughing
I’m guilty of this and I’m sure we all are at some point. Sometimes the tantrum is so funny that we can’t hold back the laughs, but for the sake of maintaining control as the parent it is vital that you don’t laugh at the child’s behavior or responses.
#10 – Giving In
Parents who give in to a screaming child’s demands are teaching him or her that to get what they want, scream and throw a tantrum. Giving in is the absolute worst thing you can do during a tantrum. Hold strong, remain in control and remember that you are the parent.