The dreaded words — temper tantrums. When dealing with a child’s tantrums, especially around the holidays, it can be tempting to react out of frustration to get your point across. However, there are some ways to handle them without having to take Santa out of the mix!
Here are 6 quick tips you can take to navigate tantrums, which may ultimately lead to better behavior.
1. Be consistent. Kids can feel negative emotions when they’re experiencing change or are caught off guard, since they don’t always know how to convey their feelings. Having consistency allows them to practice a daily routine and know what to expect in various situations.
2. Reinforce positive behaviors. Rewarding positive choices encourages kids to make more positive choices. You can also reinforce positive behavior by removing a privilege or reward when a child makes a poor choice, like five minutes less play time on electronics. Knowing these systems builds more understanding between you and your child, keeps parenting simple, in addition to providing clear expectations for your child.
3. Be specific with praise. It’s important for kids to know why they’re receiving praise for making a positive choice. For example, if you are proud of them for sharing with a sibling, instead of just saying, “Good job,” you can elaborate and say, “That was amazing when you shared the toy with your sister. She really appreciates it when you share with her!” Being specific with praise helps to develop compassion and perspective with others, while reinforcing positive behavior.
4. Give choices. Giving kids choices allows them to feel power they often do not have, which can decrease frustration. Instead of making every single choice for your child, provide them opportunities to choose between two items like what to eat, what to wear, and where to play.
5. Listen more than you speak. Although kids might not be able to communicate the same way adults do, they have feelings just like us. Hear your child out to see what they are feeling or what might be triggering them. Create a safe space for them to work through their emotions to give you both the time to think about how to respond. Talk to them to show that you understand their feelings and offer options or solutions.
6. Be mindful of your reactions. Since children don’t always have the same capacity to work through their emotions, it’s crucial to remember they are always learning from the important adults in their lives. Having positive coping skills and taking breaks as needed will not only set a positive example, it will ultimately lead to better communication between you and your child.
We all have good and bad days, but that doesn’t make us ‘bad’ kids or parents - we’re all just human! Remember to take breathers when needed and come back stronger to work through your child’s emotions together while using positive communication as a two-way street.
By doing these things, you’re taking a big step toward implementing positive behavior, and more importantly, implementing a strong and positive relationship with your child!
Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is an Educator and a Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor who has worked with children and families for two decades. Vanessa is the owner and CEO of Free to Be Mindful - a private practice located in Ridgefield, New Jersey.
Vanessa is passionate about helping moms, kids and educators with mindful living, mental health and personal growth through efforts including:
Host of the Free to Be Mindful Podcast which provides bite-sized tips and guided meditations to anyone working with kids
Founder of Amiga Moms, a supportive network for 21st century moms offering educational events founded in mindfulness
Public Speaking and Professional Development for parents, educators and young adults on topics such as mindfulness, building healthy relationships with kids, self care, mental health and more.