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  1. #1

    How do you deal with tantrums?

    My son is already 4 years old but still throws tantrums every time he does not get what he wants. I find it hard dealing with him especially when we're in public places. How should I deal with him? You're suggestions are highly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Hi MummyMarianne,

    Tantrums in a 4 year old can be embarrassing if you're in public and can be highly frustrating anytime. But as you know, your son has learned that if he throws a tantrum, he often times will get what he wants and this is why he continues to do it.

    So the first thing you'll need to do is decide that you're willing to dedicate a good week to re-training your son to respond properly rather than throwing a tantrum. It will take time and consistency, but if you're highly consistent and you can spend a whole week with him, you'll be able to change this habit rather quickly.

    I would encourage you to stay home during this time and try not to take him out of the house except maybe to the park or for a walk when others are not around, but if you can, I'd avoid that so that you can feel comfortable correcting him each and every time he throws a tantrum.

    So how do you go about changing the behavior?

    For starters, your son is old enough to understand what you're about to do, so you can actually sit down and tell him that you will no longer allow him to throw tantrums. Let him know that this behavior is not okay and you're going to expect him to obey with a smile on his face when you ask him to do things.

    If you ask him to turn the TV off, or to come to dinner, or to get his shoes on... whatever direction you are giving him, you will expect him to stop what he is doing and do what you ask with a happy face.

    If he starts to throw a tantrum, immediately go over to him, get down to his level, look in his eyes and say, "I will not let you throw a tantrum. That's not okay." Then give him the direction again... "You need to turn the TV off now and go wash your hands for dinner."

    If he throws a tantrum, then you'll ask him to walk to his room. If he refuses and throws himself on the ground, you can then "help" him to his room. Once he is in his room, let him know that he may come out when he has stopped crying or yelling, and he can come out with a smile on his face.

    You may need to close the door and you may need to stay by the door in case he tries to come out before he has stopped the poor behavior. But you will be consistent and redirect him back into his room each time, giving him the same direction... "You may come out of your room when you have a smile on your face."

    Once he realizes that the tantrum is not going to get him what he wants, and he has stopped the poor attitude, then you may go into him, give him a hug, and let him know that you love him very much, but you won't let him throw tantrums anymore.

    You can tell him that he needs to use his words to tell you what he wants (if this is appropriate). This might be appropriate for a situation where someone takes his toy, and he starts to throw a tantrum because he wants that toy. In that situation you can tell him that he needs to come to you to tell you so that you can help him.

    As you can see, this is going to take dedication on your part and it will take consistency for you to do this every single time. BUT, I can guarantee that if you give this full effort for a week, you'll have a different child on your hands - one who is able to control himself and is much more pleasant to be around. You won't be able to go back to your old habits of giving in to what he wants because the first time you do this, all the "good" you've done will be undone and you'll have to start over with the training.

    One other thing I want to mention is that you can actually practice with your son at home. You can practice having him in front of the TV and then asking him to turn the TV off and come to you. Be sure he is not tired and he is not hungry. We want him to be in a good mood when you're "practicing" what his new responses should be. If you practice at home, then he should do better when you're out in public.

    Please let me know your thoughts on this and feel free to post any specific situations that you want specific suggestions for.

    Warm Regards,

    Kate

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