Taming temper tantrums

Interestingly, the most popular conversation circle at my Choice Mom Expo in Minneapolis was “Taming tantrums: yours and child,” with parenting educator Denise Konen. Here’s one of the suggestions Denise offered.

“When kids have temper tantrums parents often think they have done something wrong. We reason that if we said the right thing or responded in just the right way our child wouldn’t have such an explosive outburst or stay so upset. Perhaps they are tired, mad or disappointed, which is something to be accepted, not fixed.

The reality is that young and growing children are often whiny, intense, and demanding. They don’t know how to calm down or how to say what they need. It’s time to get over the idea that it’s our job prevent tears and make our kids happy. It’s not and it can’t be. We, as loving parents, are there to accept our child’s temperament and help them problem solve and learn from life’s upsets. This builds character and motivation so they grow into confident, compassionate and capable human beings. That might mean they won’t get what they want just when they want it and they’ll have a big tantrum!

Our child’s meltdown is not something to feel embarrassed about, but we do have options. We can:

  • accept that it’s OK for children to express strong feelings
  • take a break when needed, to cool down and tackle the situation when we are more prepared
  • offer help [ways to soothe him or herself] and choices [“Do you want to hold my hand or be carried in the parking lot?”]
  • let our child live with the consequences (and strong feelings) as a result of their choice.

Isn’t it good to know that you are not responsible for all the upsetting things your child says and does? Good parents are responsible for our response — not our child’s feelings, words or actions. Temper tantrums are a part of life that lessen when we teach kids ways to calm down, rather than react and feed the flame.”

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