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November 14th, 2012

We've all been on the outside looking in; watching a flustered parent try to calm a screaming child who’s having the classic supermarket aisle tantrum. It’s easy to judge from the outside, but what do you do when it happens to you? Dealing with tantrums can be exhausting and can often seem like a never-ending battle, but don’t give up hope yet.

The number one rule of tantrum training is consistency. Set rules and stick to them. If you allow your child to push the limits then he will continue to do so and become more prone to tantrums. Keeping firm boundaries can be stressful, but it is ultimately rewarding. Be clear with your instructions, most especially in telling the child what they should do and what they shouldn't do but still allowing them to make choices. For example; ‘It’s time to put on your shoes now. You can choose from your red shoes or your green shoes.’ This gives them the choice of what shoes to wear, but there is no choice to not put on their shoes.

Avoid triggering tantrums by making sure you stick to routines. Do away from any crankiness due to hunger or tiredness. Also avoid temptation; if your daughter has a tendency to kick off in the sweets aisle, don’t take her through the sweets aisle. Give fair warning before any event that can bring on a tantrum like giving a five minute warning before bedtime as an example.

In the event of a tantrum, stay calm. Ignore negative behaviors wherever possible and never beg or negotiate with your child. Speak calmly and clearly when giving your child instructions and don’t give up.

Remember to praise positive behavior and always be specific. Use phrasing such as ‘I asked you to put your shoes on and you did.’ And always be enthusiastic. Point out and praise behaviors you see in other children, but don’t add phrases like ‘Why can’t you be like that?’ Simply point out the good behavior.

Be patient, stay calm and remain consistent. Some behaviors can take several months to get under control but your hard work will always pay off in the end.

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