Dealing with Tantrums

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If you have a toddler or preschooler, dealing with tantrums might have you almost at the end of your rope. The following are some techniques that I have found very helpful in dealing with tantruming children. Some of these measures need to be taken when children are not tantruming, because there are important steps you can take at times when tantrums are not occurring to reduce their frequency.

Reward positive behavior
Before children ever misbehave, look for positive behaviors and praise them. In other words, catch children being good, and reinforce those behaviors.

Help them handle emotions
Encourage them to talk about their emotions, and help them label and understand difficult feelings so that they can learn acceptable ways of dealing with them. Express your own emotions to them in simple terms so that they can learn from you how to deal with their problems.

Make rules and expectations clear
Make sure you keep your rules simple, and make sure children know what they are. State your instructions clearly and firmly and explain the consequences of misbehavior. Always follow through with those consequences. Children often tantrum if parents or teachers tend to waver when enforcing rules. If they know that crying will not change your mind, they will be less likely to cry. If children tantrum because you have enforced a consequence, explain to them that they chose the consequence when they chose the behavior. This helps teach children to consider the consequences of a behavior before they act.

Ignore the bad, encourage the good
When tantrums or whining begins, ignore this behavior (making sure children are safe). You might want to explain quickly and without emotion that you will talk when they are ready to listen. When the tantruming subsides, speak gently and offer an acceptable alternative to whatever forbidden object or activity caused the tantrum. If children respond well and accept consequences without fussing, praise them for being cooperative and find alternative activities
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