Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Temper Tantrums Need More Than A Band-Aid Solution

If you are the parent of a toddler, pre-schooler, kindergartener, or even school-aged (6-12) child who often has trouble expressing themselves and their emotions, you are likely on the receiving end of multiple temper tantrums.

Despite being associated with the "terrible twos", temper tantrums affect children and adults of all ages and upbringings. There comes a time when a person, regardless of age, just cannot deal with the feelings and emotions and frustrations that they are experiencing.

For young children, often it seems like you are constantly disciplining the child for having these tantrums. However, discipline is really just a band-aid solution on a much deeper problem. The problem roots, often, in the fact that the language skills and the understanding skills are not at the same level as the complexity of the emotions.

This means that often, all a child who has trouble with tantrums needs is a little bit of compassion and patience. If you notice that your three-year-old often has break-downs when it comes to grocery shopping, maybe the source of the issue isn't that he's a poorly behaved child, maybe the child is just bored and wants something to do. Or maybe he is hungry and cranky.

Taking a little bit of time before each new activity when your child is younger (under 5-6) to explain that something is going to change, give them a transition time (example: "John, we are going to put away the crayons in ten minutes and then we will be getting ready for bed") and then keep to the time you provided, can make all the difference in how your child reacts to the change.

If the tantrums are caused by hunger or boredom, there are many easy ways to avoid them even in public places. Carry a few purse/bag safe snacks with you everywhere, and a few portable activities that will keep them occupied if boredom strikes.

Does this seem like catering to the child's whims to you? Maybe it does, but that is because of the way you were brought up. There is nothing wrong with you, and there is nothing wrong with providing something to meet your child's physical and emotional needs in any place necessary. That isn't catering, that's parenting. That is slowly teaching methods of coping with less than ideals circumstances. And that is the best thing you can do for yourself and for your child.

Parenting is all about doing the best you can with what you have, so give yourself the best tools and set everyone in the family up for success. You deserve it.

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