Tempering the Tantrum
The fast-approaching holiday season brings many sources of joy for our families. But all the festivities—and accompanying goodies—have a dark side: tired, crabby kids. When you mix tired kids with new toys and sweets galore, often the result is one giant tantrum.
So we asked our CPT Expert Mom panel: How do you temper your kids' tantrums?
Make 'Em Laugh
I have to decide that I'll do my best not to lose my peace (or "cool") and that I will remain in control of my emotions so that the children don't have their behavior reinforced by my response to them.
If I'm willing to invest the time and effort, I can coax my kids out of a tantrum by making them laugh. While laughing may minimize the lesson needing to be learned at that moment, sometimes laughter is what everyone needs. It releases those mood-elevating chemicals through the body. I've seen with my kids that a little diversion and laughter can go a long way.
Mostly, I try to ignore them. Otherwise, if we're at home and my son's having a huge temper tantrum, I just pick him up and carry him to his room for a time out. He usually settles down pretty quickly. If we're out and about, he takes his time out in the car. I buckle my son into his car seat and stand outside with my back to the minivan. That works really well.
The important thing is to not give in to a temper tantrum. I confess, however, that to avoid the tantrum, I sometimes give in to the preliminary whining—especially in public!
Pray Them Away
Sometimes just walking out of the room helps. But I usually try to think about what time of day it is: Is it naptime? Is my son tired? Hungry? Have I not spent enough time with him that day? This helps me understand the reason for the tantrum and affects how I handle it.
If worse comes to worst—I'm already losing my mind that day and my child's tantrum just won't end—I stop everything I'm doing and begin praying out loud. My son has stopped his tantrum cold to ask, "Mommy, what are you doing?" He then forgets his anger and starts giving me prayer requests!
Keep Them at Bay
I try my best to keep tantrums from happening in the first place. I have three things on my "temper tantrum watch": sleepiness, boredom, and lack of attention from me. If I catch one of these early, I can usually keep moods from escalating.
But if a temper tantrum does occur, I try a variety of approaches depending on their ages. For example, when my older boys throw tantrums, we take consistent and immediate action. We usually send them to their rooms to reflect on their behavior. Afterward we talk about "heart" issues—what caused them to behave the way they did—so that they can see it from a biblical point of view and ask for forgiveness.