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5 Things NOT to do During Your Child's Tantrum

November 10, 2023

We have all been there. Exhausted. Frazzled. Overstimulated. And sooo close to the freakin edge.  As a child psychologist I have seen this in my practice and even my own home.  

"They are just SO angry!" Is a phrase many exasperated parents tell me at their initial therapy appointment for their child, as they go on to detail their frustrations with their child's anger and their overwhelm with feeling at a loss of how to manage it.  Often, they respond to their child's anger with their own anger, yelling, lecturing, or trying to shame them (You don't see your sister acting like this do you?!?)  

These are the biggest things parents SHOULD TRY to avoid that tend to make the tantrums much worse

  1. Losing Your Sh*t: Ahhh yes, easier said than done of course. Getting angry or frustrated may escalate the situation and make it more challenging for everyone to use their logical brain.
  2. Ignoring the Child Completely: While we don't want to give in to a child's unreasonable demands during a tantrum, ignoring them entirely can also be counterproductive. Kids need to feel heard and understood.  We want them to know we hear and see them, even if we aren't giving them what they want.
  3. Using Threats or Punishments: Threatening or punishing a child during a tantrum can lead to increased stress and fear. Instead, how can they express their mad in an appropriate way
  4. Comparing Them to Others: We hate when people compare us, we don't want to do this to our kids. Especially comparing siblings or peers.   Each child is unique, and comparisons can undermine their self-esteem.
  5. Overreacting or Overexplaining: Keep your responses simple and avoid overexplaining the situation. During a tantrum, kids can't process what you are saying. Save the conversation for after.

Remember all emotions are OK, behaviours need boundaries. Be consistent with your approach, set clear boundaries, and, most importantly, let them know that you are there for them.  You got this!

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