Temper Tantrums

As we discussed in class a temper tantrum is when a child has an some sort of intense emotion without the language to talk about it.  They can be caused by many things but often times it is simply because the young one just isn’t getting there way, however, these tantrums are essential for emotional development.

When a child has an outburst the parent has several choices: let the child be, argue with the child, give in to their demands, etc… Giving into the child’s tantrum, or “rescuing” them, can send many messages to the child.  It can tell them that you (as the parent) are incapable of handling the child’s distress and if the parent can’t handle it, how could the child? Also, from a behaviorists point of view “rescuing” a child from an episode sends the child the message that crying and carrying on is the way to get what you want.

Even though temper tantrums are normal among young children, they can become disruptive and distracting.  There are, however, a few things parents, school teachers, and daycare providers can do to help keep them to a minimal.  One of the first things you can do is to avoid the tantrum all together.  We’ve all heard the expression “catch them being good,” well this applies here.  If you can give a child some sort of reward when they are being a “good boy” it is likely that a tantrum can be avoided because the child has something to occupy them (Harrington).  It can also elicit future good behavior.  Another thing that can be done to avoid an outburst is to simply tell the children what to do rather than asking them.  For example, rather than asking a child “would you like to go to the store?” say “Jonny, we’re going to the store now, get your coat.”  The last thing you can do, according to Harrington, is to give your child power when they can have it.  For them a little power will go a long way.  If getting your child ready for bed is always a task larger than it needs to be try using this strategy here.  For example you can ask them, “would you like to brush your teeth or put on your pajamas first?”  This will give the child the sense that they are in control and will be less likely to argue with you about getting ready for bed.

Tracy Hubertz

Harrington, Robert G. Temper Tantrums: A Guideline for Parents. http://www.nasponline.org/resources/behavior/tantrums

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~ by tracyhubertz on October 8, 2009.

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