No two children are exactly alike. Every child is born with his or her own temperament. Temperament influences a child’s behaviour. Because every child is different, it is impossible to offer one strategy that will work for everyone.
Some children will occasionally disobey parental instructions for the precise purpose of testing the determination of those in charge. It also reflects the admiration children have for strength and courage. This explains the popularity of superheroes like Superman, Spider-Man, and Popeye in the folklore of children.
All young children can be naughty, defiant and impulsive from time to time, which is perfectly normal. However, some children have extremely difficult and challenging behaviours that are outside the norm for their age.
All children throw a temper tantrum once in a while. The child might throw himself or herself to the ground, scream and kick his/her feet. The way the parents respond determines how likely the children are to keep throwing tantrums. The parents should take some time to examine the underlying reason for the meltdown.
Children have tantrums for two main reasons:
- The inability to manage their emotions: when a child cannot get a grip on what is going on inside them, they often show their frustration through their behaviour.
- Their attempt to control the situation: a child who is not sure how to deal with uncomfortable emotions like anger, sadness and disappointment may throw a tantrum.
Although not all temper tantrums can be prevented, a few proactive steps by the parents can stop a lot of their child’s tantrums:
- Find out when the child is most likely to throw tantrums. If the child is hungry or overtired, parents should not schedule tasks that will be difficult for the child.
- Preteaching can be a great way to help children to have realistic expectations. Telling a child that every time you go to a store is not the right time to buy toys, will prepare him/her to fall in line with your expectations.
- Establish rules before the child faces or enters a new situation. The child can be told that he/she is expected to share toys with his/her friend who will be coming to their place. If not, the toys will be forfeited.
- Teach the child how to use simple words to manage their feelings. A child can be taught to say, “I am mad” when a situation arises where he/she is not comfortable. Parents should also praise the child for managing feelings appropriately.
- Do not give in to stop the temper tantrum. The parents should make sure a child knows that throwing a tantrum will not be effective in getting his/her way. Giving in might make things easier in the short-term because it will make the tantrum stop, but in the long run it will only reinforce to the child that tantrums are a good way to get what he/she wants.
- Ignoring can be a great strategy to reduce temper tantrums. Although screaming may get louder at first, the child will eventually learn that it is not an effective way to get the parents’ attention.
Parents should make sure that they are using appropriate discipline strategies and not punishment to teach the child.