Dr Anna Cohen |
Printed online at kidspot.com.au
Public tanties can be extremely embarrassing – and what’s worse, you’re bound to run into someone you know (or a stranger who has puh-lenty of parenting advice.) Luckily for you, we have some tips that will actually help.
The important thing is to remember that calming your child down is your number one priority, not worrying about what other people think. At times you’ll be able to recognise your child’s behavioural symptoms in the lead up to a tantrum and put a stop to it before it begins!
As your child’s brain develops throughout these early years they will continue to search for the best way to express themselves. Tantrums are all a part of this process, as by this stage children have not learnt to regulate their emotions. Your role throughout this is to guide them down the best possible path. While it would be preferable for you child to have a meltdown in the privacy of your own home, the reality is that won’t always happen. After figuring out what techniques calm your child down, you’ll be ready to handle any tantrum – public or not!
Dr Anna Cohen offers her five best tips to help parents feel more prepared and confident when dealing with a public tantrum.
Identify the problem
The first thing parents should do is figure out why their child is acting out. Has something badly upset them or are they injured? Once you’ve figured out the issue, you’ll have a better chance of calming your child down. If you can’t work out what’s wrong, the next step is comforting your child. For whatever reason they are upset, your child will want to know that you are there for them. Most of the time when children have tantrums its because they are tired, angry, uncomfortable, anxious or simply because they’ve been told ‘no’.
Be firm but fair
While it can be tempting to either reprimand your child or give them anything they want to stop the tantrum, it is important you resist. Punishing them or bribing them with a reward is counter-intuitive and fosters unhealthy behaviour. Recognise that they are upset and show them you’re ready to listen. Letting your child known they are heard will help to diffuse the situation. Instead of just saying ‘stop it’, let them know that you’ll ride out their emotions with them. When approaching a tantrum parents should be very clear and strategic with their language.
Learn the symptoms
A key tip for handling a public tantrum is to recognise your child’s behaviour in the lead up to one. This strategy often helps parents avoid tantrums altogether! For example, if you are out shopping and you notice your child is starting to get agitated, it’s time to bring in some preventative measures.
Prevention is key
While some tantrums can’t always be avoided, there are preventative measures all parents can take to minimise the chances of a public outburst. Fortunately, young children are easily distracted. This is why bringing along toys or food can help calm a child down if you sense a tantrum coming on. You can also try letting them know where you’re going next or something fun you’ll be doing later in the day! Another good distraction is to give your child a task to complete, so they can gain some sense of control. Generally, young children have tantrums when they’re told ‘no’. Consequently, parents must be careful when selecting their words. For example, instead of saying ‘no’ try using phrases such as ‘I know you want ice-cream but we’re saving it for after dinner.’
Ignore your surroundings
This includes people! Don’t stress about what others are thinking and approach the tantrum exactly how you would if you were at home. Most people will understand that the situation is out of your hands and for those who don’t, you’ll never see again!
While it would be ideal to shut a tantrum down quickly and quietly, the truth is that’s not always possible. At the end of the day, there are times where you may just have to ride it out. Remember not to be too hard on yourself! Tantrums are very common in young children, particularly between the ages of 3-6. Fortunately this is only a phase your child is passing through. It is all part of the journey of growing up and your child is figuring out how to best express their emotions. It’s stressful handling tantrum (public or not) so before you have a meltdown of your own, try some of these tips!