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  • Laging May Tantrum? Expert Shares Common Triggers To Avoid And Get Toddlers To Behave

    Plus, five steps to inspire good behavior.
    by R.M. Mauhay .
Laging May Tantrum? Expert Shares Common Triggers To Avoid And Get Toddlers To Behave
PHOTO BY iStock
  • Filipino parents have said that for them, raising toddlers is the hardest stage of parenting. This is the age where kids tend to be stubborn — unable to tell right from wrong and refuse to listen to mom and dad. Of course, it's also the stage where tantrums and meltdowns are inevitable.

    How to get your child to behave at home

    Tantrums don't mean you have bad kids, but why do they behave this way? In a webinar held by the ADHD Society of the Philippines to celebrate ADHD Awareness Week, registered occupational therapist Judd Paolo Tolete shared some insights on how to manage children's behavior at home. 

    According to Tolete, behavior is the result of how an individual reacts to his environment. This means that there is always a cause for your child's behavior, which triggers a reaction from him. To manage the behavior, you must first know what causes them to behave this way.

    Step 1: Know the common tantrum triggers

    These causes can either be an internal or external cause. Examples of internal causes include fatigue, illness, or pain. For external causes, it can be an unfamiliar person or place, or maybe the level of difficulty that a child is being asked to do. 

    Here are four common triggers for a child's behavior.

    1. Wanting an object or event

    When your child wants something and they can't have it, they may start acting out. They'll try different ways to persuade you and when it doesn't work, they'll shout or cry to have their way.

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    2. Trying to get out of a situation

    Some children also misbehave if they want to avoid a situation. For example, when it's bathtime, they'll hide under the table or run around to avoid mommy or daddy.

    3. Escaping from a demand

    When you ask them to do something and they don't want to comply, throwing a tantrum can be their tactic. After all, there are other things they would rather do, like play until they get tired or bored.

    4. Sensory function

    If none of the above seems to be the cause of your child’s attitude, try asking them if they are irritated by something. Perhaps a tag on their shirt is rubbing on their nape and back and making them uncomfortable or their shoes may have been laced too tight.

    Step 2: Be firm and do not tolerate misbehavior

    A child's reaction to situations can go two ways: It can either be adaptive or maladaptive. Adaptive behaviors are practical, real-life skills that individuals need to learn so they can function in their everyday lives. Maladaptive behaviors, on the other hand, stops you from adapting to new or difficult circumstances. It is up to the parent on what behavior their child will grow up with.

    Tolete discourages parents from putting up with tantrums and meltdowns, as it can lead to maladaptive behavior. For example, when your child is crying and you figured out that it's because they want some chocolate, don't let them have the treat just so they would stop crying. They'll think that crying gets them what they want, so the tendency is they'll keep doing it.

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    Tolete says that toddlers learn adaptive behavior when parents stop tolerating maladaptive ones. Show your child that they won't always get what they want if they throw a tantrum.

    Step 3: Help your child communicate properly

    Your children will not learn adaptive behavior overnight. Parents need to put in some work, too, and teach their kids how to properly communicate what they want and how they feel.

    Try to actively explain to your child why they can’t get what they want. And that they still won’t get what they want even if they cry.

    Step 4: Respond to your child's behavior accordingly

    According to Tolete, there are four ways to respond to your child’s behavior.

    Positive punishment

    This is adding a consequence to decrease misbehavior, where you give something that they don’t necessarily like as a result of doing something naughty. For example, if they gave you a hard time because they don't want to take a bath, the positive punishment would be making them eat more vegetables during meal times.

    Positive reinforcement

    You can also add something to increase good behavior. When your child sucessfully communicates to you what they want, take notice and give praise. Give them something positive when they do something that's also positive.

    Negative punishment

    If you can add something, then you can also subtract something. For example, if they don't eat breakfast, you'll subtract the use of gadgets for the day.

    Negative reinforcement

    You can also subtract something to increase good behavior. To increase your child's good behavior using reinforcement, you can remove something that they don't like. For example, you can tell them that they don't have to clean up their toys if they finish all the vegetables on their plate. 

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    Aside from those four, you can also use a token system to reward them for their good behavior. Give your child a sticker for every good deed and explain why you are giving it to them. You can also give them a reward each time they collect a certain number of stickers. Of course, there is a limit to the rewards system — read here.

    Another thing you can do is to give your child a time out. Create a thinking corner for your child where they will do nothing but sit. In this corner, you can let them reflect on what they have done. No gadgets, no books, nothing to entertain them. Just your child and their thoughts in that corner.

    Step 5: Be a good role model

    It goes without saying that you are your child's primary role model. If you want them to show positive behavior at home, you should also be well-behaved at home. For example, if you want to lessen their screentime, show them that you can also do without your phone. Remember: What your child sees in you is also what he'll also try to do by himself.

    Do your child's tantrums make you feel like a mean mom? Click here for ways to feel more in control.

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