Do we discipline or love? The answer is both. Many people think that they are mutually exclusive, if we are being loving, the child is not learning and if we are disciplining we can’t show love. However, it is quite the opposite. A tantrum is a way in which a child shows that something is bothering them, but they have not learned how to communicate it in a healthy manner. As caregivers, we have to show that we understand their discomfort, but we don’t agree with their methods.
5 Tips for dealing with tantrums:
1. Be firm -DO NOT give in to what they want. Simply because they are tantruming, it does not mean that they should get what they are asking for.
2. Be compassionate. Being firm does not mean being aggressive or angry. You can have a very clear message of “no” without getting worked up or even getting angry. We can say “No” in a very loving and caring way. We can hug, we can validate their feelings and express how we understand their frustration, but do not give in.
3. Be calm - Children read our state of mind very clearly, if we get aggravated they will feel it and act on it. If we are calm, they will sense it too.
4. Help them calm down- Children are similar to adults. At the height of our anger, we cannot be TOLD to calm down. Just like adults, we each have our own unique way of calming down. Some of us need to be left alone, while some of us need a hug. What does your child need?
5. Help them communicate- When a child is calm, you can talk to them about healthier ways of communicating. In the midst of their tantrum, this conversation might not go so well. Wait until they have the space of mind to process what you are saying.
You might not see results right away, however, if you stick to a firm and loving position, your child will learn that you understand their pain, but tantrums will not get them very far. We cry out when we feel we are not being heard or when we feel that it can get us what we want. If children continually learn that when they are in the height of their anguish you hear and feel their pain, but they will not get what they want, they will have no reason to tantrum in the future.