We parents dread and despise our kids’ tantrums. Tantrums are loud, irritating, embarrassing, exhausting, depressing and just plain awful. I often tried to figure out why tantrums are so horrible and I’ve decided that they hit us parents square in the face with the plain, old fact that in the end we have no control over our kids! During a tantrum, a black storm floods over your kid, your family and your life and it is bleak.
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Thing is, tantrums don’t start or stop at age two, in my experience. We hear so much about the Terrible Two’s and there certainly can be a blossoming of very dramatic toddler temper tantrums during that year but, in my experience, tantrums can start well before the two’s and extend well into the pre-teen years, which is as far as we’ve come in my house thus far. Yup. Temper tantrums affect older children and they can even hit us adults too. Read on if you agree mamas!
I tend to worry too much about what other people think, so I do spend time thinking about how to avert tantrums, especially public tantrums, which I find humiliating! Having recently gone through quite a bad morning with all five of our kids, a few of whom were having severe temper tantrums over not wanting to do their chores, here is my two cents on a few basic ways to avoid tantrums or at least to make them less likely to occur.
1) Rest. It’s so obvious but if your kid is exhausted they are basically 100% more likely to have a tantrum. If your kid won’t nap, a good bedtime becomes key. And if they woke up early and you can tell it’s going to be a messy day, cut your losses and concentrate on how you are going to get them down nice and early the next night.
2) Food. Sorry but here’s another obvious one. Your kid needs good food: high-energy healthy food that is low in sugar. Pop a big juice box and huge piece of cake into your four year old and she likely will have a fit on the way home from that birthday party. Just sayin’. Don’t think I’m a martyr or anything but at recent birthday parties of ours, I banned the juice. Water, then cake. Why do kids needs juice?
3) Standards. Now we’re getting out of the black and white territory and into the greys. When I start to let my guard down and to not react to when my kids are misbehaving, they tend to have more fits. I think kids have fits because 1) they want to get something that you’re saying no to, and 2) they think that their behavior will change the outcome. So for example: it’s after school and you brought your kid a snack from home but he wants a $3 pastry from the bakery. He has a fit, saying “I’m not going to eat that, why can’t I ever get a nice snack from the bakery?” You are standing in front of 100 other parents. You have two choices: 1) tell him NO he has to eat the snack from home, or 2) cave and get him the bakery treat. Now, we WANT to pick 2) because it’s the path that is less painful and embarrassing but if we do, we are essential saying “When you have a fit, I will cave and give you what you want.” So don’t, be smart, stand your ground, and suffer through today’s tantrum so that you avoid other the potential tantrums that could come your way in the future. In other words, stick to your standards and be consistent and you will make life easier for you in the future. Don’t teach your child by how you react that tantrums work.
4) Stay cool. When kids get upset, and we get angry, they feel the stress and anger and get even more upset and the whole situation just escalates. We don’t tend to discuss temper tantrums in adults but think about it? Sometimes our kids tantrums can really make us angry! It amazes me how if I stay calm, the tantrum passes like a quick rainstorm leaving the ground barely damp. But if I get angry, and yell or whatever, I’m left miserable in the wake of that tantrum for a few hours or the rest of the day. The fact that I haven’t set a good example makes me even more dejected. Getting upset never makes anything better. In fact, we parents should turn the old saying back at ourselves and repeat inside “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” In other words, you get this child, and his tantrum, and YOU PARENT have to deal with him now, so don’t get upset, just handle it wisely, and the tantrum will go away.
5) Forget about what others think. I’ve written about this one a lot because I know personally that I worry too much about the REGARD of others, the look, and especially that they will think I am a bad mom and my kid is spoiled or whatever. Today at drop-off, Marielle pitched a fit when I told her we were taking the stairs and not the elevator. Would have been SO much easier to cave and let her decide, but I had made a decision and I stayed with it. Several other moms witnessed the whole episode and you know what, I am sure none of them went home saying “boy, can’t believe that child cried over having to walk up the stairs.” Haven’t their children said and done the same thing on a number of occasions? And if not, and they are judging me, well so be it.
So there you go — 5 ways to avoid tantrums — not necessarily CURRENT tantrums, but FUTURE tantrums. You might not be able to avoid all of them, but hopefully these tips will help you avoid some of them.
Wishing you a happy, peaceful weekend free of fits of any kind!