You’re probably exhausted from all your child’s meltdowns and although you’ve considered joining the screaming match, you know it won’t work. Before you reach for the ear plugs, co-founder and director of Step Up Education Centres, Cindy Glass, has a few tips.
Establish why your child is having a meltdown
Is she hungry, overtired, afraid, overstimulated or in pain? Does she want something you have said no to? Knowing what triggered the behavior will help you make better choices as to what action is best to take.
Your child is trying to communicate
Toddlers and preschoolers are learning to live in a world of other humans and complex scenarios. They have not yet learned how to manage their emotions effectively and emotional hijacking in the form of meltdowns is their way of trying to tell you how they’re feeling. It’s our job as parents to teach our children more effective ways of communicating their emotions and how to learn the skill of self-regulation.
Stay calm – even if you don’t feel it
If you start yelling and screaming at an upset child, you will exasperate the situation and, even worse, y teach your child the way to handle a tough situation is to get angry and act out.
Giving in is a form of reward
If your child is screaming because she wants to do or have something you have said no to, you will need to dig deep and stand firm in your decision. Your little one will learn all she has to do is act out and she will get what she wants. You teach your child how to behave by the choices you make.
If you give in to one tantrum and not another, you will create a sense of confusion in your child, further exasperating the need for tantrums.
Try distracting your child from the tantrum-trigger
This may help in calming the situation. You can also try to avoid the tantrum trigger altogether.
Actions and choices have consequences
If your child has had a tantrum because she’s not getting her way with you, try removing privileges by way of consequence. For example, “We won’t be going to the park today because you didn’t behave very well when I asked you to pick up your toys.”
Stick to your guns and insist that your child carry through the instructions you had given in the first place.
This will teach your child that tantrums have no value.
If your child is safe, you may want to ignore the tantrum
She will realise there are more effective ways to get you to understand what she’s feeling.
Your tot is still learning
You are her guide and her first and longest-lasting teacher. Teach your child how to behave by how you choose to behave. She is more likely to do what you do, rather than what you say.
Thobeka Phanyeko is mom to Oratile, 4. She is a journalist with a BA in Media studies from the University of Cape Town and has extensive experience as a journalist and content producer which she gained from Reuters, eNCA and Caxton Magazines. She is also a life coach and NLP Practitioner and is passionate about motherhood and women empowerment.