Gather yourself. Take a minute to calm yourself. If your own emotions escalate, chances are that your child’s emotions will also escalate, and increase the duration of the tantrum. It is vital that when your child loses their cool, you keep it together!
Validate your child’s feelings. Instead of jumping to say, “you are acting ridiculous, this is so unnecessary”, acknowledge their feelings, “I understand you are upset, it makes you feel angry when we have to leave the playground, but when we get home we can play with your toys”. This way your child knows that you understand their resistance to follow through on your directions, but they still need to listen to your rules.
Offer choices. Instead of demanding, “you have to wash your hands or you won’t get anything to eat”, provide options, “do you want to wash your hands in the kitchen or the bathroom?” Giving choices makes your child feel like they are in control and eases frustration levels.
Do not lose control (even when you feel like you have). Instead of threatening, “wait until your dad hears about this”, be authoritative and state, “I know you are too upset right now to talk, so maybe when dad gets home, we can all talk about this together”. It shows that you, as a parent, are in control and it does not make the other parent the “dictator” or the "bad guy".
Use positive reinforcement. Reward appropriate and positive behaviors, as immediate and as often possible. Rewards do not need to be tangible. Use verbal praise or a simple chart with checks or stars to track behaviors, such as helping a sibling, sharing a toy, or cleaning up after an activity. If you choose to use a chart, at the end of the day, count the checks that your child has earned together. This will be a visual reminder for your child each day of their behaviors and will instill confidence.
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