Turn Tantrums into Tame Behavior

July 06, 2015

tantrums

It’s summer, and it’s no big surprise that tempers can rise just as easily as the temperature when children are hot, tired, and exhausted from the heat. Parents can find themselves in situations when they feel their blood boiling as well. So it helps to be mentally prepared for those special moments when your child tests your tolerance. As a therapist, I have worked with hundreds of children, and I have found that 5 main strategies are most effective when I need to turn tantrums into something more tolerable. Here are my suggestions:

Ignore It

It is often best to not draw attention to negative behaviors. For example, if a child throws a toy, continue the current task but also make sure that the child picks up the toy later. If the child is abusive, you may need to restrain them for a few seconds to prevent any harm, but resist lecturing in the moment.

Change the Scene

Sometimes, drawing attention to something else will distract a child enough to create a shift in their emotional state. This can include changing locations, suggesting another option, or introducing something novel like a new phone app they haven’t seen. Keep in mind, using technology as a strategy is not advised for extended periods of time.

Keep Calm 

If you raise your voice and heighten your stress level, the child’s behavior may escalate to match yours. Remember to use a soft voice, breathe slowly, and if
possible offer your child a firm hug to give them a sense of security.

Find the Source

Find the source then remove it. Just like adults, children want to be understood. Try to get your child to communicate what is causing them stress. Removing the person or object temporarily can decrease the tension momentarily.

Provide Incentives

Call it bribery or creative strategizing or motivation, but children will do amazing and challenging things for a “treat” they find valuable. The trick is to determine if it’s a sticker, free play, food, rest, toys, money, quality time, or something else. Figure out what motivates them, and follow through with the delivery of it but only if its not what has caused the tantrum.

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I hope you find these tips helpful. If your child consistently has tantrums you are unable to tame, consider consulting with your pediatrician about the possible need of occupational therapy services. Have a playful day!

Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L

Amy Baez is a pediatric occupational therapist, award-winning handwriting author, and Founder of Playapy. For more information about Playapy services and products, visit www.playapy.com or email info@playapy.com.

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