Everyone gets angry, but it is not always appropriate to act out by screaming and punching things. When we do this, our kids are watching us as their example of proper behavior. I am not saying that if you are chill, your kid will be too because every individual is different, but even inborn personality traits can be managed and changed through some deliberate actions.
Just because child issues and frustrations seem minor to you – someone wouldn’t share, someone took the swing from me, and I had to do time out, that’s not fair — to your child it’s big because it ruined her day. So she has a meltdown. Sometimes so do you, so show some compassion and offer an alternative to acting out.
Don’t minimize her actions by trying to rationalize the magnitude of the issue. Stay away from words such as, “It’s only a game. It doesn’t matter,” and the ever popular, “Get over it.” Put yourself in her shoes. Think about times you get angry and how you would feel about some of this advice. Think about times you get angry and how you would feel about some of this advice. Let’s say someone cuts you off in traffic and you get mad. Do you want to hear, “It doesn’t matter, it’s only one car.” I’m guessing the answer is no.
Teach alternatives to a tantrum. Learn to identify the warning signs of a meltdown and intervene before your child flies off the handle. One rule we have in our house is that kids are allowed to be in a bad mood just like everyone else, but they are not allowed to take it out on others. So in the case of the grumpies, kids are relegated to their rooms until they calm down.
It’s not punishment (especially when kid’s rooms have video games, mp3 players, and sometimes computers) it’s just a cool down method similar to time out but without the stigma of punishment. Another method that works for adults also is taking deep breaths and counting to ten (provided they can count).
Try and distract your child with something else like a game or something on TV. Many kids, when redirected, will actually forget their anger. If he is still angry after an attempt at redirect, you can give him an ultimatum disguised as an option. You might say something like, “You can choose to calm down and go and watch TV or play outside or you can go and lay down in your room.” This way he decides to let go of his anger and move on.
It cannot be stressed enough that consequences for disobeying when we say that certain punishments (like no ice cream after dinner or an early bedtime) will take place if the child continues acting out, that we follow through. If you give warning after warning but never any punishment, you are headed in a dangerous direction, and if you don’t master discipline from day one you are in for trouble, and, not only that, you are setting your child up for some big issues down the road. If you won’t deal with the tantrum of a two-year-old, you have no chance of dealing with a 16-year-old.
Yes, we love our children and sometimes it is hard to discipline (make sure the punishment fits the crime and is realistic) and punish. We don’t like to punish, but our job as parents is not to be a friend, but a teacher and an example so as to lead our children to happy well-adjusted adulthood. Then we can be friends.