There was a time when my daughter *Michelle kept whining, wanting screen time, but I would know she’s tired. So instead of fighting with her. I’d give her a bottle of milk and sure enough she fell asleep and that was the end of her tantrum. She woke up a happy child after that.
My other daughter *Chloe will do things like stomp off when she’s angry at someone or when she and *Michelle would have arguments. I usually just let her be for a few minutes, before I go and sit next to her and offer her a hug and ask her if she’s ready to talk about what happened. If she isn’t ready, I’ll respect that. But I realised the act of just being with her does cool her down quite fast. When she’s ready, I will hear her side of story, process it with her and her sister after that and ensure reconciliation takes place. So far this still works!
Four things to keep in mind when dealing with tantrums
1. Seek to understand the root cause
When dealing with our children’s temper tantrums, we first need to understand that tantrums are like the tip of the iceberg.
There is an underlying root cause and reasons that triggers this out lash and we need to understand what it is.
Usually children throw tantrums because their communication skills have not been fully developed and they don’t know how to express themselves and its sometimes their only known way to get their message across or get what they want. So it’s important understand what our children are trying to tell us through their tantrums.
2. Children need help processing their anger
Sometimes tantrums are also caused by their inability to manage anger. This is a tough one and anger management is a lifelong process up to even adulthood.
At different phases of maturity, parents need to help our children process and verbalise why and what they are angry about so they learn this skill from as young as possible.
Timing on when to process what happened with them, is also important so that it doesn’t fall on deaf ears especially in the heat of the moment. This requires a lot of patience and understanding on our end! Depending on the child’s love language, I find that just being there or hugging and holding them gives our children assurance that we are on his/her side. Give them time to cool down before processing the situation with them at the right timing.
3. Identify when it is a desire for quality time
Another possibility of tantrum is when the child’s emotional tank is empty and they seek our attention hence displaying bad behaviour for us to at least notice them. If this is the case then we should spend quality time with them to fill up their emotional tanks.
4. Be firm when needed
Lastly tantrums could also be their means of getting what they want. Being firm and not giving in to tantrums will also send them a firm signal on the boundaries we draw as parents.
In short, we need to diagnose the right root cause before we can apply the right antidote to their misbehaviour or tantrums. I find the acronym HALT – Hungry, anxious, lonely and tired a helpful check if these are possibly what triggered the tantrums and quickly feed them or put them to sleep if hunger or tiredness is causing the tantrums.
*Names have been changed to protect child’s identity