None of us is born with skills like patience, discipline, good behaviour or compromise. In fact, we develop these skills with time and age, sometimes never at all. These skills can only be conquered if one has the acceptance and mindset to do so. Then why do we, being adults, expect kids who have entered this world merely 2 or 3 years (may be a little more) back to put forward their best behaviour at all times.
We must, first and foremost, understand that tantrums do have a strong cause behind them. Sometimes tantrums indicate hurt/pain that a child can’t communicate, irritability due to lack of attention, lack of time/love from parents etc. but very rarely, in fact only from the age of 6 onwards do frequent tantrums indicate behavioural or psychological issues. Throwing tantrums that last few minutes is a part of your child’s development and also it is your job, as an adult, to share your calm with them rather than further aggravating the situation. Children most learn through actions of parents and other adults in the family.
I know dealing with tantrums, especially in public can be a huge challenge. I have been guilty of not handling the situation in the beat way, once in a while too by losing my calm. However, our main aim should be each day, to become a better parent than yesterday.
I have faced many such incidents with my 2 year old and here are certain ideas that have helped me a lot more than yelling or throwing a fit could have:
- Whenever the situation arises, kneel down and get to the child’s eye level. This way he/she feels important and secure. They listen to you better when you’re closer to them.
- Always listen to them, try to make them communicate their problem and actually solve it for them. Even if you do this 3 out of 5 times, they start developing the faith in you.
- Try to never lie to your children, this breaks their trust and they tend to think that you might always be lying.
- Make them realise you love them. Kiss them or hug them often. This way they realise that they’re important for you and you are going to have their back when they’re in need.
- Screaming and kicking should be dealt with some mild form of punishment (time-out, missing their favourite treats etc) once in a while so that they know what behaviour is not acceptable.
- You being the parent, best know what situations lands your kid in a break down. It is best to avoid such situations and/or quickly change the subject to something that interests your child more, to take their minds off the stress. My young one has recently developed the interest in the mobile phone and wants to use it to watch rhymes the entire day. I try to keep him busy with other activities like colours, blocks etc and keep the phone out of his sight to take his mind off. Try to create diversions.
- Ignore what you feel is too petty. You need not address all their issues. This will make them realise that only genuine issues bother you and not the unnecessary ones.
- Reward them with incentives if they behave nicely. This is not bribing but acknowledging their good and proper behaviour.
- Try playing pretend games where you pretend to be the kid and they pretend to be the parent. Throw a fit and see how they react to it. Then start showing better behaviour. This way they realise how good behaviour is better than bad.
I hope we all manage to become better parents, that is only how we can raise better individuals.