Tantrums are a natural occurance, usually starting at the terrible twos or earlier, when a child doesn't get what they want.
It is a normal, required learning process developed when a child has identified his own, separate being and is testing his abilities, his world and his parents to the limit.
The trick of this game is to get the child to understand the tantrum achieves absolutely nothing, immediately.
I have watched parents coo and plea, beg and deal in order to bring a child out of a tantrum. My heart goes out to both the parents and the child for what they will mostly likely encounter later on down the road.
I have watched parents neglect and ignore a tantrum only to have the child actually injure himself during one. Again, my heart hurts for all the parties concerned.
I was blessed, for some reason, children who did not throw tantrums past the few initial testing episodes.
My son had gotten into something at a low level I did not want him in, (a cupboard containing glass bakeware, before "childproofing" became a household word) and I removed him from the cupboard. He started to whine, cry and insist. Forever and a day, I will remember standing sternly in front of him, hands on hip with my no-nonsense mommy face on, saying, "You are NOT going to act like that." Once he realized I meant it, which included more protests and whining, my picking him up and starting to remove him from the kitchen (where I had been baking something with his sitting on the floor to keep me company) on route to his bedroom for a time out, he quit. He shut off the tears and moans like a brand new faucet.
That is when I brightly said, "I know what we can do! Would you help me?" His cheery little grin immediately appeared, and he anxiously took my hand to see what was in store. We moved all the tupperware (gobs and gobs of it) into that same low cupboard, the glass bakeware took its place in a higher cupboard. From that day on, that became his play cupboard in the kitchen, where he could spend hours with me as I went about my chores.
Recent encounters with young children made me once again, pull out my mommy attitude to look at tantrums and how to solve them.
Just as it was truly hard for me to witness my children receiving innoculations at the doctors, I figure this is one of the prices a parent has to pay.
Steeling yourself to endure screaming during the first tantrum is the only way to go. You feel heartless, you want the child to stop sooo badly, you feel responsible for letting them scream, but it payback is worth the temporary torture a hundred fold.
My tantrum notes:
1. Above and beyond all else, make sure a child never ever injures himself or can be injured during a tantrum.
2. Make it clear the tantrum is unacceptable
3. Do not coddle, comfort, hug, or change the circumstances that brought about the tantrum
3. Proceed with life normally as if the tantrum is not happening
4. Take the child to a time-out location and make sure he stays there until calm, not to receive any attention until he is back to behaving normally.
5. Try to distract the chiild from the tantrum by calmly offering other choices, once.
6. Allowing the child to have their way during a tantrum tells the child immediately who is boss, even under two years old
7. This is one of the largest test a child can place on his parents, don't fail him by not dealing with it properly.
Situation: The child has a temper tantrum about an object
Don't: Coddle, comfort, hug, or return the object
Do: Remove the object the child can't have firmly but without force and tell him he can play with this or that
Situation: The child screams or misbehaves in a store
Don't: Coddle or bribe the child
Do: Remove the child on the spot. Outside, tell the child, "I will not allow you to be in the store when you act like that"
Do: Offer to return and get what ever you came for if he will behave
Do: Make the rules clear about his behaviour before you next shop
Sacrifice the shopping trip instead of the child
Situation: The child refuses to take a bath
Don't: Coddle, hug or bribe the child
Do: Inform the child that when the bath is over, we are going to watch cartoons (or a favorite activity)
Do: If needed, apply your heavier discipline, be it a small slap on the hand or time out
Make the bath a truly fun time by playing with her, a be a child yourself for a few minutes.
Your bottom line choices for tantrums are:
Ignore it, completely, encouraging continual bad behaviour in attempts to get attention
Baby them out of it, reinforcing negative behaviour gets attention
Bribe them out of it, encouraging a child to become spoiled, quickly learns screaming DOES get him what he wanted
Standing firm and rationally offering other suggestions, encouraging a child to deal with disappointments and choices.
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