My child is impossible !

Ever spoken those words?  Ever felt like ‘giving up’ when you child throws a major temper tantrum in the middle of the store and everyone stares at you?  Well – you’re not alone!  And let me assure you – no one’s child is perfect – no matter what they say or post on social media!  Every child will have something they battle with – and every parent will have areas of parenting they find particularly hard.  The trick is to learn as much as you can about how to cope and  manage your own parenting through all the trials and tribulations.  

Tantrums in Public
Although initially a tantrum is a reaction to a feeling – if children don’t learn how to control and cope with these feelings – their tantrums won’t just ‘go away’.  In fact, they may stay with them – or even get worse!  You think toddler tantrums are bad – imagine a demanding, excessive teenager!  You need to ‘check’ your child’s tantrums early on and teach them how to cope with how they’re feeling and channel this into the correct behaviour. 

For example – at the first sign of a tantrum (falling down on the floor; becoming hysterical; kicking; screaming) tell your child firmly ‘to stop or else we are going to leave (the store, restaurant, movie, friends etc).   If you feel more comfortable giving them a warning first, then do that.  But only 1 warning for a ‘tantrum’ event.  I.e. say: ‘This is your only warning.  You need to stop ‘behaviour’ or we will leave immediately’…and then folks…you MUST FOLLOW THROUGH !  That means no matter how inconvenient it is for you – you MUST LEAVE !  If you lose money – sorry for you – but it will be worth it in the long run.  If it’s embarrassing, say sorry and if necessary make it up to the friend/party parent etc later – but this is the only way your child will learn. 

Then.  When your child is distracted and has calmed down – try and find out what they were feeling at the time of the tantrum.  What made them feel so frustrated that they were unable to cope and had to behave in that way to express themselves?  Often they don’t have enough language to express themselves and they get beside themselves with frustration.  Try and learn how to pre-empt tantrums.  Watch their emotions and mood; work with actions (sign language) with them to communicate with you; give them some space to work it out; sometimes they need to be ignored; praise them a lot when they’re behaving well; create a diversion or distraction; hug them; use empathy; model the behaviour you want – be calm yourself & keep a sense of humour – laugh it off!

Then.  Really NB!  The next time you head out for a similar event – speak to your child beforehand and say, ‘we are going back to ‘name the place’.   I would like to see ‘name the behaviour you want’ as I would like to be able to stay for the whole event this time.’  Don’t blame the child and rehash their bad behaviour – use ‘I language’ and be positive about what you want to see happen.

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