Tuesday, December 15, 2015

How to Stop Tantrums

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Lately there has been a common theme of questions on the ABCJLM Facebook group, all centered around the topic of discipline.  Specifically, asking for help with children who throw fits and demand their way.  But there are often fears associated with these questions.

1.  Won't discipline hurt my child's development? 
2.  How do I stop tantrums?
3.  Is it too late to begin?

Let's tackle each issue.

Won't discipline hurt my child's development? 

One of the beliefs of the 21st century is that our children need our complete attention, ample amount of focused time, and many opportunities to find their niche in life.  While all of these can be good to a certain extent, the pendulum has swung way to far.  To the point that allowing the child to feel #1 is just as unhealthy as ignoring the child, crushing the child's dreams, and not exposing the child opportunities around them. 

Allowing a child to be the most important person in your home is not doing him or her a favor.  Actually it is quite the opposite. God created us to glorify Him.  In order to do this, a child must be outward and upward focused, not self-centered. 

In Deuteronomy 6 parents are commanded to teach their children to love the Lord their God. Throughout the Bible, parents are instructed to train and discipline their children, and children are commanded to obey, listen, and honor their parents. 

Furthermore Jesus told the disciples in Matthew 22:37 to “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." He tells them in verse 39 to "Love your neighbor as yourself."   

A child who demands his way will be unable to put God first.  A child who demands attention will be unable to put others firstAs parents and teachers, we must train our children to be patience, use kind words, respect others, and obey those in authority. 

How do I begin?

Here is a collection of ideas shared in our group.

1. Figure Out What is Fueling the Tantrum
To begin, figure what is encouraging the child's to act this way. Typically tantrums continue and get louder because the child is getting what he wants (attention, receiving what he demands, you to stop what you are doing, etc).

2.  Remove all Communication
Many times communication is what extends the tantrum.  As soon as a fit begins, stop all talking with the child.  Soon the child will learn that if she wants to talk to the adult, she will need to be in control. 

3.  Remove the Audience
Have you ever seen a child stop screaming for a split second to see if anyone is watching?  This is why removing the audience is so important.  The easiest way to handle a tantrum is to walk away from the child. Since this isn't always feasible, the other option is to remove the child and place him in a spot away from everyone else. Set the child in a designated place to help the child gain control (i.e. in a crib, on a carpet square, highchair, on a stair).  But remember to carry the child to the spot without any conversation.

4.  Show No Emotion
Sometimes this is the hardest one to do consistently.  But if the child gains your attention or can get you upset, this can be fuel for the behavior.  ~ Alisha

5. Sometimes Mommy Needs a Timeout
Parenting can be exhausting.  Jona shared, "Sometimes after it is all said and done, I go outside (or in the bathroom) for a few minutes to pull myself together."

6.  Emotions are Real
After the child has regained control, help him understand that emotions are real.  If he does not have the vocabulary yet, help provide him with words describing the emotion he is feeling.  "I understand that you were mad/sad/hurt.  Instead of throwing a fit, next time, I want you to ....."  ~ Emily

7.  Teach Your Child to Play Independently
Teaching our child to entertain themselves was a huge help in stopping tantrums.  Our kiddos learned to play and in turn didn't go to drastic measures to gain our attention.

8.  Be on the Same Page
As parents, make sure you are in agreement and support each other on these parenting ideas. 

9.   Don't Give In
Whatever you do, do not give in to fit throwing.  ~ Torrie

  Here are two books that I have found most helpful in our parenting journey.
1.  Love and Logic Early Childhood
2.  Have a New Kid by Friday by Kevin Leman

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood is a wonderful series to help children deal with emotions and frustrations.  The simple, catchy songs are wonderful.  The first five seasons are free to Amazon Prime subscribers (free 30-day subscription). 

Is it too late?

It is never too late to teach a child obedience and respect for others.  With that said, the longer you wait, the harder it may be.  So, I encourage you to begin now.  I once read in a Love and Logic book that for every year of poor discipline, it takes one month to correct the behavior.  So, if the child is three, you can typically turn things around in three months with consistent discipline and consequences.

It is never too late to obey God's command to teach our children to glorify God.  You can do it!  God will give you the strength and wisdom you need and you will never regret the energy it takes.

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The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.