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How to Handle a Temper Tantrum

Your child's emotional overloads are a normal part of growing up. But what's the best way to handle those fits? Mighty Mommy explains

By
Mighty Mommy,
May 8, 2012

In an earlier episode, we looked at how to avoid temper tantrums. But what if it's too late and your child is already acting out? The key is to be consistent and firm. Remove the child from the situation and give him a warning that this behavior will not be tolerated. If the behavior repeats or continues, use whatever your usual disciplinary measures are. I find time-outs generally helpful in that they allow a child to calm down, gather his thoughts, and report back to you once the tide of emotion has subsided.

Once he’s calmed down, allow your child to apologize for his behavior and, if possible, have him repeat back to you what he did that was wrong and why he should not do it again. “Use your words” is a very common phrase parents use with their children. It’s a good phrase and I definitely recommend it, especially in these types of situations. Even a 2-year-old can usually say, in his own way, “I hit my friend. Hitting hurts. Sorry.” But sometimes you might also need to put the words out there for your child. “Do you feel mad?” “Is this game too hard?” You could even ask, “What can I do to help?”

Make sure to also give your child time to explain to you WHY he was acting out. You can tell him that it’s OK to be upset or even angry, but instead of using his hands or screaming about it, he should come tell you. The end goal should be to give your child the opportunity to explore his feelings so he can deal with them, instead of just giving in to them.

Check out more expert advice from the new Mighty Mommy.

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