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Temper Tantrum Tactics

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I have to say that I was more than a little bit irritated while listening to the local radio station on my way in to work this morning. I was actually kind of, well, furious. I tuned in and they were taking tips from moms on how to stop a temper tantrum, or how they react to a kid’s temper tantrum. Here are a few of the suggestions:

• Tell them Santa is watching and if they keep it up, there will be no presents.
• Pick them up and hold them tight giving them tons of kisses and hugs
• If the tantrum is about wanting something in the store, offer them something else to quiet them down. That way, they’re not winning, but they’re still happy and quiet.
• If in public, walk away so that you’re out of sight and make your child think you left them there. Scare the tantrum right out of them.

And my personal favorite, and the only point where the radio personality cut the caller off:

• If it’s a bad tantrum, where they begin to hyperventilate, jam your knuckles in to the child’s chest to “shock them out of it”, or pinch them with your fingernail, or splash water in their face.

I’m not intending to pass judgment here, although, ultimately it will come off sounding like I am. I realize that different things work for different children and that everyone has a different parenting style, and that this was a random sampling of parents in my area, but I can’t see how any of these are good ideas. You child knows you are full of crap when you pull the Santa card. Believe me. My own mother would pull that crap out in July. Your kid knows they’re getting presents regardless. Picking them up and hugging and kissing the tantrum right out of them….what? Giving the child something else but not what they want so “you are the winner” does not seem like the way to go either. Somehow I don’t think it’s about winning. And as far as I’m concerned, shocking or scaring a child out of a tantrum is abuse.

Here is my personal policy on tantrums- they are not allowed. That is not to say that my kids don’t throw tantrums, because on occasion, they do. We all have our moments, right? When a tantrum does come on, Ed and I are consistent in our approach. If we are at home, the child is welcome to cry and carry on, so long as they do it in the privacy of their bedroom. Once they have pulled themselves together, we will discuss what has occurred and what the resolution should be. If we are in public, whether it’s a store, church or party, the child is removed from the situation. No questions asked, and again, we discuss it once they have calmed down. We also set the expectation of what is going to occur before going someplace, i.e. “We are going to Target to buy a gift for your cousin. That is all we are buying today.” Giving it to them straight, up front, goes a long way with my kids.

Again, I’m lucky in that my kids aren’t tantrum throwers. Perhaps I’d have a different perspective if they were, or if I’d experienced some of the extreme behavior others talk about. The reality is that they’re a product of their environment and I’m a strong believer in the fact that my kids behave the way that they do because of the way we interact with them. This may not be the case for other people, I don’t know. I’m definitely not judging the parents of kids who do act out because like I said, all kids are different.(Unless you’re letting them scream in church and not taking them out. Then I am judging you.) I do know some great parents whose kids have horrendous tantrums.

What does everyone else out there think? How do you deter the temper tantrum?

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