Dealing with tantrums is the part of parenting that can make any mom or dad pull his hair out. We've given you techniques, tips and tricks to get a handle on your child's meltdowns, but why is it that your child still tends to lose it so often? Reflect on how you deal with your tot's frustrations and see if these are the discipline strategies you tend to fall back on:
1. Using threats (a.k.a. nananakot)
“Sometimes parents aren’t quite sure how to handle a temper tantrum so they give warnings even though they aren’t prepared to follow through,” says Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do, in an article for VeryWell. An example of this is saying “If you don’t come with me now, I’ll leave you here” when your child is having a tantrum at the toy store.
Aside from either not having any effect at all or scaring your child into submission, threats like this harm your relationship with your child as well. Children learn to not trust their parents this way, says Karyn Gordon, author of Dr. Karyn’s Guide to the Teen Years to Today’s Parent. “If a parent doesn’t follow through, kids learn not to trust their parents. It’s a problem because trust is the foundation of all healthy relationships.”
It may be difficult to remain level-headed when a tantrum happens, but it’s important especially when disciplining children. A study involving over 900 families, published in the journal Child Development, found that harsh verbal discipline from parents can have a significant negative impact on kids. “Harsh verbal discipline” is when parents cause emotional and psychological pain to correct or control behavior. This can involve yelling and shouting, and using words to insult or humiliate.
Also, children copy the actions of their parents. If you don’t like your toddler shouting at you, don’t shout at your toddler. “We should not do anything in front of [our children] that we don't want them to do,” Katharine C. Kersey, author of The 101s: A Guide to Positive Discipline, told PBS.org.
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3. Giving in
When you know your child is throwing a tantrum because he wants something you know he shouldn’t have, giving in to the tantrum only tells him that crying and making a scene, especially in public, works. Hence, your child is likely to use tantrums again in the future to get his way.
Moreover, this is one surefire way of raising a spoiled child. Child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Maria Celina H. Germar describes a spoiled child as “an overindulged child who engages in socially inappropriate behaviors (i.e., tantrums, whining, crying, being excessively demanding or manipulative) whenever he does not get what he wants.”
Sometimes, a tantrum comes from a feeling of sadness that a child can’t properly express in words. She then lets you know about it through loud crying or throwing herself on the ground. Leaving his playmates behind at the playground to go home, for example, can be hard for kids and can make them genuinely sad and upset. Using stern words like, “Stop crying!” or “Tigilan mo ‘ko!” will only give fuel to the fire.
Instead, acknowledge and validate his feelings. A simple phrase like, “I understand how you're feeling. I would be sad about it too” along with a hug is sometimes all your child needs to feel better. Expressing care and empathy is a loving, easy, and quick solution. Acknowledging your child’s feelings makes it easier for him to move on from a tantrum.
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5. Fueling bad behavior with attention
“Whining, screaming, and obnoxious behaviors can be difficult to ignore. But attending to attention-seeking behavior reinforces your child's choices,” says Morin.
Your little one likes getting attention from you, so he’ll find ways to get it, even if it’s through bad behavior. “Any type of attention, including negative attention, gives children positive reinforcement. So consider ignoring mild misbehavior that is meant to grab your attention,” adds Morin.
As a counter, make it a habit to notice good behavior in your child, like when she’s playing quietly, patiently waiting, or being kind to a friend, says Morin. This way, your child gets a lot of your love without having to put herself, mom, or dad through a tantrum.