10 strategies for tantrums

Suggestions for dealing with tantrums, PLUS a case study on how to say no to your child.

By Joe Rich, MSW

10 ways to deal with tantrums

Many parents find that they are great at saying no until their child throws a tantrum, when all planning seems to fly out the window. There are some specific strategies you can add to thinking long, choosing a role and aiming for better. In the case of a tantrum, try the following suggestions:

1. Don't take the tantrum personally. This situation happens to all parents at the checkout counter.

2. Don't engage in the behaviour. Don't look your child in the eye or make any engaging gestures. Try to maintain the position of observer.

3. Comment on the behaviour. ("Wow, you need to work on mommy/daddy saying 'no'" or "You don't like no.")

4. Remember why you are in the drugstore (did you come in to get shampoo or to make a scene?) and stick to your purpose. Don't let preschoolers change the agenda because they haven't learned to control their wishes and wants.

5. Say, "this is unacceptable" as a way of explaining, not disciplining. Try to get your child out of trouble, not in trouble. Use this time to teach your child to discuss when there is something that he or she wants.

6. Identify yourself in one of your roles and see what that means right there at the checkout counter.

7. Don't abandon your task or punish your child because he or she wants candy. All kids want candy. It's not a punishable offence.

8. Let it go, for you and for them. Don't allow an event like this to spoil a day or evening. It is a short moment on the long journey; don't make it any longer or larger than it has to be. Make the good stuff last longer.

9. Don't trade this problem for another by saying things like "I'll buy it for you now, but you can't eat it until later." Say no, take your lumps, and move on to the next part of your day.

10. Remember that you have to manage your behaviour before you can teach your children to manage theirs.

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Excerpted from Parenting: The Long Journey by Joe Rich, MSW. Copyright 2007 by Joe Rich. Excerpted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. This title is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.

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