A Fun and Funny Tantrum Cure
I used this approach with both of my children with great results. When a child begins throwing temper tantrums, usually it's in front of company or perhaps down at the corner market. Until they throw one where it's just the two of you in a room, the main thing is to interrupt the tantrum and to remove them quickly and calmly from the public eye. Give them very little emotional feedback, no anger, no praise, simply remove them from the area they're in. Certainly, above all else, do not give them what they're trying to get with the tantrum.
The cure begins when they throw that first tantrum with only you in the house.
You watch them for a moment ... Then firmly you say, "No. No, no, no, this will not do. You're doing it wrong. Stop." Once you've gotten their attention you say, "Here, let me show you how we throw temper tantrums in this family. It's embarrassing to see you do it wrong and it's time to learn how to do it right. We do things right or we don't do them at all."
'You get on the floor and you throw the temper tantrum of your life'
This breaks their pattern. They become curious. Now comes the 'owwie' part. You get on the floor and you throw the temper tantrum of your life. Kick, scream, hit the floor with abandon. Then get up and say "Okay, see how I did that? Now you try it."
At this point the child has pretty much lost interest in throwing a tantrum. Get them to do it anyway. Tell them it's important they learn how to do it right. The child will get on the floor with a half-smile on their face and begin a halfhearted effort at a tantrum. You say, "kick harder." They will. "Scream louder, that's not loud enough." They will. "Hit the floor harder, hit it like you're really upset." No matter what they do or how well they do it ... it isn't good enough. You stop when they begin to cry. Don't worry, within two minutes they'll be in tears - because when you throw a tantrum without being really upset to begin with, you feel the pain as you hit and kick the floor. Besides, when Mother makes it seem like no matter what you do it isn't good enough ... well that's frustrating enough to make any child cry.
'My oldest child never threw another tantrum'
As soon as they begin to cry, you help them up and cuddle them and tell them it's all right, they'll do better next time. You say "Honey, you're a good learner and you can learn this. You'll see. Maybe you'll get it right next time." At this point the child is thinking, "Next time???" Because you've associated so much pain to it (not you hurting them, but rather their own fists and feet hitting the floor) that they're really not all that thrilled with the idea of tantrums now. My oldest child never threw another tantrum. My youngest was a little more hardheaded and it took two doses.
Admittedly, this is not 120 per cent honest. However, it is quick, effective, and you don't have to yell at your child or hit them or make them feel worthless. They do feel physical pain while hitting and kicking the floor, but if you've done your part right, it's no more pain than you'll feel when you did it. A temporary 'owwie'. Compared to the pain a child goes through when their parents have inadvertently trained them to get their way by throwing tantrums - sometimes daily tantrums - this seems to me a very simple, healthy solution. (Not to mention hilarious!)
'My children have used it with their own children'
My children are both grown now. Neither of them is upset with me for the way I went about it. Both have used it with their own children with the same results.
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