Thursday, September 25

Dealing with Tantrums

I always give a little giggle when Cultivating Home receives comments on how peaceful and serene our life is. It is a very happy life but hardly ever a quiet one. And every once in a while our little Spark decides to liven things up a bit more and let us know just how he feels about whatever is happening contrary to his will.
I am in no way an expert on the subject but here is what works for us.

1.) Remove the audience.
If we are in a public place we take the wee one away from the public. Whether this means leaving a cart full of groceries and letting the clerk know you'll be back in a while for it or a pile of library books on the counter.
If at home, putting the child in his bedroom away from siblings and letting him know he can come out just as soon as he uses his self control...
If the child tries to give himself an audience again, we pick him up and put him back in the room.

2.) We are big on teaching self control.
Before the tantrum ever happens we are always teaching our kids that God wants them to have self control and Mama and Papa want them to use self control. This applies to whining, yelling, arguing, and tantrums and a bzillion other things in life.

3.) Cut it off before it gets bad.
Pick a nice time to have a quick talk with your little one, maybe while you are cuddling on the couch or during bath time. We say, "Little Spark, you know how sometimes you get so mad that you want to yell and throw yourself on the floor? Well, you are getting to be much to big to do that so mama and Papa are going to help you use your self control. The next time you try to throw a fit, we are going to tell you to get up real quick and use your self control. I want to see how quick you can get up and do it, okay?"
The next time the tantrum starts, do this and congratulate the kiddo when he does get up and uses his big boy self control!

4.) Consequences, disciplines, corrections...
However you prefer to label it - every tantrum needs a consequence and restoration. The restoration comes with hugs and prayers and the kiddo apologizing to whoever is around for losing his temper. Lots of love here. Oodles of loving. Encouragement that the kiddo is big enough not to have to throw fits when he's upset, that he can use his big boy (girl) words to talk about what is wrong. You will love the response when you walk hand in hand back into the library to pick up your books and small one apologizes to the librarian. You'll need a spatula to scrape their jaws off the floor. Not many kids are taught to apologize, I guess.

Then the consequence. A loss of a privilege works great. What is your child's currency? Do they love dessert? Maybe the consequence for throwing tantrums in your home is no dessert. And I'm bad, real bad. That night, I'll take extra care to make a beautiful, luscious dessert. Oh, yes, I'm bad. I always tuck aside a portion for the wee one but he has to wait until the next day to have it. So I'm only half bad, right?

We've been lucky enough never to have any biters, scratchers, etc. so I have no wisdom to offer there. We have been kicked and hit. Putting the child by himself, on his bed until he calms down usually works. I'll usually sit in the doorway, quietly praying and thinking about how someday we'll laugh together over these times. The kiddo can see me and I'm close enough that its not a bother to get up and put him back on his bed if he gets up before he's settled down. If you have a child that hurts himself or herself, I'd consult your physician.

For more professional parenting wisdom:
Cloud and Townsend
Family Life Today
Focus on the Family


Kim said...

I completely understand. My daughter was strong willed when she was younger, but thankfully is very calm natured now. My boys are the hardest, with my 2 year old being the most strong willed I've ever had!! He really is going to turn my hair grey. :) And I'm pregnant with another boy. Some days I want to pull my hair out, and other days I am so thankful because they are all so precious, smart, and healthy. It's worth it. There are just *those* days...

New Mom said...

Hi Hannah,
I noticed that you didn't mention "spanking" as one of the consequences. Curious as to what your view are on that? I am from the deep South so you can probably guess what mine are!

Mrs. S said...

Hi Hannah,

Thank you for posting this. It's always nice to see what works for others.

Mrs. S

Katrina said...

Thank you, Hannah, you are always so very encouraging and inspiring. :)

Me said...

Kim, you are right, there are just "those days". I am very thankful that tantrums aren't an every day occurrence and, thankfully, are occurring less and less!

Hi New Mom,
Yes, (smile), we do spank, but not for everything. I think each child responds differently to different disciplines and if taking away our kiddos dessert is the worst discipline he could imagine, then that's the one I'll be using for tantrums!

Thanks, Mrs. S!

I'm glad you think so, Katrina!

WendyandGabe said...

My daughter is only 3 months old, but I think about how to deal with this all the time. I'm a librarian and I see many, many, loud and noisey tantrums. If a child came back to apologize then yes, my jaw would drop to the ground. Often children throw a tantrum because they can't check out as many videos as they want, and I am shocked when mothers say, "That mean librarian won't let us!" Thanks for the great advice, I'm filing it for future use.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I have been reading your blog for a while now. I have enjoyed very much the way you are able to look at life with such peace in your heart. I am a SAHM and am just beginning our homeschool journey. Lately, peace in my own heart has been hard to come by. God's love is so evident in your words that it always helps me to "get back on track" when my soul is weary. So thank you for sharing your journey with the world so that others, like me, can experience such a great "fellowship."

Betsy W.
Norfolk, VA