It can be inconvenient, frustrating, and downright embarrassing when your child decides to throw a tantrum out in public. You’ll want to defuse the outburst right away or, better yet, prevent the tantrum from occurring in the first place. Here are some ways that you can keep those tantrums controlled and to a minimum.
How to defuse a tantrum
- Communicate. Young children, between the ages of one and four, often have a hard time expressing their needs because they have not yet learned the language skills to do it. When they don’t get what they need, they throw a tantrum because they have not yet developed the coping skills to deal with it.
However, if you tell your child that you know they want something and you acknowledge that he is upset, then you are letting them know that you understand them. Being able to empathize with your child is one way to help him feel better during a tantrum and ease the situation.
- Create a distraction. You can give your child a toy, a book, or some snacks to take their mind off whatever was upsetting them. You can even try changing the subject by asking a question that you know will engage their interest. This is also a good way to get them out of the public eye during the tantrum. For instance, if you want to leave a location you can ask her, “How many birds do you think we’ll see on the ride home?”
- Be funny. We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine. This rule of thumb is no different when it comes to taming tantrums. If you make a joke when your child starts throwing a tantrum, he will start laughing and his mood will improve.
- Stay calm. Kids often throw tantrums because they want something and they think that by screaming loud enough, they’ll get your attention and you’ll get angry enough to give in to their demands. But if you don’t react to their tantrum, they might realize that their efforts are pointless and they’ll give up testing your limits.
- Leave. Sometimes the best thing you can do when your child is having a particularly loud and prolonged tantrum out in public is to leave. This will also show your child that you are the one in control.
How to prevent a tantrum
The key to avoiding a tantrum is to understand what triggers your child’s tantrums in the first place. Sometimes tantrums can be the result of a lack of sleep or too much stress. Situations that involve change may provoke tantrums as well.
- Avoid provoking situations. By keeping your daily routine consistent and giving your child a warning five minutes before changing an activity or switching locations, you can avoid any surprise situations that might trigger a tantrum.
- Communicate. Again, communication is a key tactic in preventing tantrums from occurring. If you tell your little one your plans for the day and you stick with them, it will reduce the chances of your child being caught off guard by any changes in your routine.
- Meet her basic needs. Making sure your child is well-rested and fed before going out in public will put her in better spirits and reduce the chances of any outbursts due to hunger or tiredness.
- Hide temptations. Things like candy bars and other off-limit items that may spark a tantrum should be kept out of sight and out of mind, so they don’t result in battles between you and your child.
- Teach coping methods. You can teach your child to deal with frustration by telling them to try focusing on their breathing or on something else that is around them at times when they get angry.
At Prep Academy, our experienced faculty knows how to handle kids when they are being fussy. Our staff, 84% of which have college degrees, are highly trained in early childcare education and are prepared to deal with tantrums in the best ways possible for each child. With a little practice, you too will be taming tantrums with ease!