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Over Coming Tantrums

Tantrums, doesn't it seem like they always happen when you, the parent, are the most exhausted and you took the kids into the grocery store just for a minute to grab something for dinner, only to have your two-year old meltdown in the candy aisle?

Every parent knows the frustration of a child that will not listen to reason. “It is dinner time,” “You don't need the sugar,” “Because I said 'no,' that's why!” Should you give in and let your child have the candy? Before, we answer that, you will need a little background on why children act out like this.

The most important thing to remember is that your child's brain is only partially developed. Their frontal lobes, which control higher level thinking and reasoning, as well as hold knowledge of acceptable social behaviors, has a long way to go before it will resemble a mature adult brain. Children learn to handle pain and anger by watching how their parents handle it. If you lose control often, you child will likely mimic your behavior. Another very important fact to remember is that children see life in a different way. While you and I are able to look far into the future and put things into perspective, your two year old (or even 10 year old), has a much different concept of time. Not being allowed to have a piece of candy is very hurtful to a two-year old. Often times, this is not a power trip, but a child who was very excited to see their favorite candy car and is hurt and confused as to why its within reach, but they aren't allowed to have it. Life is black and white for a child. Just as a ten year old, who doesn't get permission to go to a birthday party, because you have family plans, may breakdown into hysterics. He truly believes that by missing that party his peers will no longer be friends with him. No amount of telling him otherwise will convince him.

So, as you stand in the grocery aisle trying to push your cart away from your screaming two year old, here is the best idea for ending the tantrum and moving on. It's called the bait and switch. “Tommy, I know you are so upset right now. I am sorry, sweetie.” Let him know you are on his team and you don't want him to feel upset. Then offer him the alternative, “If you help mommy go find the eggs, then we can buy the cow cheese you like. Would you like that? Here, you hold the list for mommy and we will go and find the eggs, do you know where they are?”

The important thing is to remain calm. If you begin to get upset, so will you child. Their emotions are tied so closely to your own emotions, you can quickly end up in a downward spiral on anger and frustration. Act in such a way that finding the eggs is way more fun than laying on the aisle floor crying and that you don't want him to miss out. Goodluck!!!

Wed, 06 May 2009 17:16:35 +0000

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