Ten Tips to Tame Your Child's Temper Tantrums

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David's mother explained, "Whenever David doesn't get his way he throws himself on the floor, screams, kicks and cries incessantly. What can we do to help him overcome this behavior?"

TIP: What is David getting out of this behavior? First make sure that you are not rewarding this type of behavior, positively or negatively because both will help keep it alive. If you eventually give in to this behavior by changing your initial decision (not letting David go out to play, refusing David a cookie), David has learned that tantrums work. Hence, when David wants his way he may think, " a good tantrum just may get me that candy bar, it got me out of bedtime last night." Negative attention (yelling, threatening, ridicule, spanking) seldom changes the behavior. Getting you upset may be just as rewarding as giving in to their demands. So again, make sure you are not unintentionally rewarding David for this behavior.

TIP: Be proactive. Think of the situations that invite David's meltdowns and head them off before they happen. Do questions that require a yes or no answer provoke a tantrum? Instead of "Do you want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch David?" try "It is time for lunch David. Would you like PB&J or macaroni and cheese?" Advance notice may help as well. "We will be leaving Grandma's in ten minutes. Get everything you want to take care of completed before we go." Is David more likely to throw a tantrum when he is tired? Then you may want to provide an opportunity for him to take a nap.