Smart Way to Handle Tantrums

Just found another article I think may be a big help to some of you. Enjoy.

Smart parenting: Smart way to handle tantrums
2010/03/13

ZAID MOHAMAD

IN some aspects, parenting is not very different from managing a business.
At work, we negotiate with the suppliers, customers or even our boss.

And at home, we negotiate with our children.

Let’s take a peek at what goes on inside smart parents’ “boardroom” to see how they successfully negotiate with their offspring and winning the tantrum war. Little children are the best negotiators in the world! They tend to use one tactic that adults rarely use – crying.

Sometimes they would scream and throw tantrums as well. For better effect, the crying is usually dramatised by jumping, rolling on the floor or banging their heads on the wall.

These tactics work best in public and most times, the children will get what they want.

Sounds familiar? Have you seen the drama before? Or worse, were you in one before? However, not all negotiations are horrible and dramatic.

There will be times when your children will catch you off guard by using a more “pleasant” tactic such as making cute faces while tilting the head to one side, followed by the rapid blinking of the eyes. Whatever the tactic is, there surely will be something they want to warrant such behaviour.

It could be a toy, an ice-cream, wanting to go somewhere, or wanting to get something. As adults, what do you do if you want something? You ask first, and if that does not work, you negotiate.

This is the same for children, except that their negotiation tactics can be rather dramatic. So, what can we do? First, we should avoid potential drama, if possible. Use parental instincts to anticipate the tantrum triggers. For example, if you are in the mall and your children have a weak spot for candy, avoid candy stores. Second, use distraction.

Offer to see or do something else that may be better. If the situation is negotiable, you can make a deal with your children.

For instance, you can say, “If I buy you this toy, you must promise to pick it up and keep your room neat.” But if the situation is non-negotiable, then you must make your stand clear. Explain the reason behind your decision and be prepared to use your veto power if needed. Third, be consistent with your approach.

These little negotiators will understand that their Mummy and Daddy are fair but firm in dealing with their tactics. Smart parents know that by giving in once, the little ones will realise that their tactics work and will resort to such tantrums at the next opportune moment.

Basically, parents need to nip this in the bud so that their children will not grow up spoiled. They should respond only to genuine cries such as hunger, pain or discomfort. Are you able to recognise the tactics and successfully negotiate yourself out of the “boardroom of horrors”? Well, all the best! • Zaid Mohamad is a parenting coach and the author of Smart Parents, Brighter Kids.

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