What NOT to Do During A Temper Tantrum

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July already? Where is the summer going? Heather here, from FamilyVolley.com, and today I am sharing a few “what not to do’s” when it comes to temper tantrums. Because even though school might be out for the summer, our parenting gig never gets a summer break.

Temper tantrums are a normal part of childhood. For a complete step by step guide on how to prevent and deal with temper tantrums, check out these posts. Temper Tantrums Part 1 and Part 2.

In the heat of the tantrum, there are few things most parents try, that just don’t work. Here is a quick reference guide of 4 things you should NOT DO when the tantrum breaks out.

First, Don’t Ask Questions. Ugh, I find myself guilty of this one. In the middle of a tantrum I want to ask “why are you throwing a fit”, “what happened”, “talk to me and tell me what is wrong.” But, small children don’t have the mental development or language skills to express what they are feeling. So asking them questions in the heat of the fit, will most likely add frustration and prolong the tantrum.

Second, Loose the Empty Threats. Don’t threaten to take away the treat, or put them in their room, or take them to sit in the car, if you are not going to follow through. Just don’t do it. Empty threats actually teach kids to misbehave. Plus, not following through sets us up to loose our position of authority with our children. If we are going to threaten, we have to follow through. Quickly and without emotion. The key is to be consistent. If you can’t follow through with the threat, don’t threaten.

Third, Don’t Use Reason. In the middle of a temper tantrum is not the time to explain to your two year old that eating a 6th piece of licorice is not a great idea because of the red die in the candy. Or that the weather man says it is going to rain and she is going to need to wear the coat she is refusing to put on. There will be time for reasoning and explaining later on. During the tantrum, our children can’t access their rationalizing and reasoning skills. Tantrums are about emotion, not reason, so trying to use reason won’t help us.

Fourth, Don’t Yell. Our kids are looking for attention when they throw a tantrum. They want a reaction and it doesn’t matter if it comes from positive behavior, or negative behavior. Yelling gives them the attention they are looking for, so we can’t do it. Instead we need to take a deep breath, count to ten in our head, and remember that we are the adult, and then act like one. Solid research shows that parents who yell and get angry, have children who demonstrate the same behavior. So when we yell, we are actually teaching our children to yell and be angry too. Teaching them to do exactly what we say we don’t want them to do.

Tantrums are challenging. Instead of yelling and throwing out empty threats, give your child a hug, or stay close to them and assure them you are going to stay with them until “they are done”. Remember, Compassion is always more powerful than anger.

Have a question, or just want to say hello? You can find me at FamilyVolley.com. On PinterestFacebook, and Twitter. Or send me an email. I love making new friends.



Parenting and Time Outs

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It goes by a million names. “Time out”, “Go to your room”, “stand in the corner”, “sit in the time out chair”… The list goes on and on. What ever phrase you use to send your child away when they are misbehaving is what we are talking about.

About 30+ years ago, in an attempt to get parents to step away from spanking, “time out” was introduced. The goal was to have children sit in time out, so that they weren’t getting parental interaction and so they could take time to work through what they were upset about. It is now a common parenting practice that when children disobey, start to cause problems, and refuse to listen, that we send them away to be alone, in a time out.

But, The next time you are ready to send your children to a time out, take a minute to think about a few things. Time outs aren’t nearly as helpful as we think they are. Nor do they strengthen our relationships with our kids or teach them long term skills that are helpful as adults. (Now, don’t misunderstand, there are obviously times when distance and space is necessary, but here are a few things to think about. A new perspective.)

First, when we send our kids to time out, we are sending a message that how they feel doesn’t matter. We are telling them we don’t care about how they feel, we want them to shut their feelings off and go away.

Second, sending kids to time out sends a message that you want your children to get away from you. (I know, sometimes we really do feel this way, but…) This message says “I don’t care about you, please leave.” Our children need to feel love and when we send them away, the last thing they feel is love.

Lastly, time outs don’t teach our children to deal with their problems. By sending them to be on their own, they don’t get any help learning how to manage their feelings and emotions. By acting out, it shows they already don’t know how to handle how they are feeling and the situation they are dealing with. Sending them to time out doesn’t help them learn to manage anything.

This might sound silly, but let me suggest an alternative to a “time out”. It is time for a “Time In.”

What is a “time in”? A “time in” is gathering your child into your arms and giving them a big hug, instead of sending them away. When their behavior is horrible, when they start throwing a fit, or they hit, or they won’t listen, instead of sending them to their rooms, go to them, get down on their level, and  gather them up in your lap and hold them. Just sit and hold them. As you wrap your arms around them, let them experience the feelings. Let them be angry or sad. And let them say what they want to say.

How are you going to hug a child that is causing so much trouble? Entertain a new perspective…Maybe they are throwing a fit, or talking back. But think of it this way. Instead of getting angry, think… my child must be really really upset to be acting out this way. They must be hurting in some way. Distraught in some way to be willing to throw the fit and talk back. So instead of sending them away, realize that they are in some sort of distress and are just asking, in fact yelling, for help. Simply changing our perspective will make us want to keep our children near instead of sending them away.

Imposing a “time in” will show your child how much you love them. It teaches them you want to be connected and care about how they are feeling. It also gives you an opportunity to teach them how to deal with their emotions and feelings.

Now, it might not work right away. You might try to hug or hold your child and they pull away, or fight or yell “don’t touch me”. That is okay. It will take time for your child to accept this new practice also. Don’t quit. Stay close to your child, and express “you are having a hard time right now aren’t you. That is okay, let me hold you and we can talk about it.”

Remember that as you are working through a “time in” with your child, they will have a hard time expressing themselves for fear it might get them in trouble. Be open to their true thoughts and allow them to be honest. The more they push you away, the more they need you to stay close. Just continue to stay as close as they will let you and ensure them that you won’t leave them alone, feeling this way.

SO… the next time you are ready to call for a time out, STOP, don’t send them away. Instead, wrap your arms around your child, hold them close and give him/her a minute to regroup, feel loved and understood, and start over. Let the love pour out over them and watch their behavior change. In fact, you will see much greater and more successful results by disciplining with “time in’s” than “time outs”.

When it comes to discipline, love will always prevail.

When was the last time your child was misbehaving and you gave them a big hug instead of getting mad at them?

Do you think it would be hard to use “time in’s” instead of “time out’s”?

Have a question or just want to say hello.



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