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How to Survive Temper Tantrums

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! 

Ever experienced your child having a full blown temper tantrum at the worst possible time? Ever felt completely lost on what to do whenever it happens? I promise you, you're not the only one! Plus what's great is that this week's Nanny Tip of the Week is here to save the day! This common occurrence is generally seen between the ages of one and three, but these tips can certainly translate for many other circumstances later in a child's development (i.e. implementing drawing boundaries, children acting out because they refuse to do homework, losing at competitive games/sports, etc.). Check out this week's tips so you can save them away for another day and feel more prepared and ready for when it happens!

1. Consult with the parents always - As you may be aware, every parent has varying parenting styles that they have both personally grown up with and have decided to implement with their own children. Be respectful of the wishes of your employers and ask them how they wish to proceed whenever this comes up--they will thank you for it and notice your commitment to working as a team. Use the time you speak with the parents as a great brainstorming session and come prepared with whatever materials/research you have done and an open mind on how to help. 

2. Once you've decided your plan of action for a temper tantrum, remain consistent - This tip is so key when attempting to teach a child a new expectation for behavior. When inconsistency occurs, children become confused and respond in adverse ways. For example, if the collective decision is to remove the child from the room to another more quiet space when they act out, stick to it. Not only does this demonstrate to the child that they know what to expect when they become frustrated, but it also conveys a sense of safety and care from the caregiver. 

3. Explain expectations when the child is not upset - The last thing someone wants to hear when they are freaking out is being told at the moment of crisis what they should have done instead, am I right? The same goes for kids. Find opportunities to explain the appropriate expectations for behaving negatively during a temper tantrum in times when the child is more likely to be receptive. By doing so, the chances of the child remembering what was explained to them earlier will kick in during times those temper tantrums arise.

4. Praise the child for good behavior as often as possible - For example, if a child has learned to go to a quiet place on his own when he doesn't get his way, be sure to praise that! The opportunity to do this can also take place when the child chooses to avoid the consequences by listening to you and following through with instructions (i.e. the child choosing to pick up his toys instead of crying and acting out physically). So be sure to identify what rewards you can offer your kids when they are behaving well and follow through with rewarding them!

5. Do not give much attention to the behavior you don't want - Unless there is an issue of the child's safety, give more attention to the good behaviors rather than the negative behaviors. The lack of attention for negative behaviors reduces the likelihood that the child will want to do them because developmentally, children want to find ways to both please you and find closeness with you. 

6. Ask the child if there's something they need or how you can help - Sometimes just offering a favorite healthy snack or a hug can de-escalate the situation and stop the temper tantrum before it starts. Ask for ways to help and be sure to level with the child as much as possible so that they can feel heard. 

7. Learn how to choose your battles - I save this tip for last because I think it's one of the most important tips I can offer when it comes to handling temper tantrums. Obviously, this is going to take some relationship building and time spent around the family to know when to take on the battle and when not to. Just be sure to use your best judgment when making decisions and follow through with your plan of action to the best of your ability. 

There are likely a dozen popular perspectives on what to do specifically when a temper tantrum arises, but start with the tips provided here as a starting point and find what works best for the children you are caring for. In this case, oftentimes one size does not fit all, so continue to evaluate the child's progress and keep working at it until you find the best plan!

So, next time a temper tantrum, remember these tips and be confident in your skills as a nanny--you can absolutely do it! Thanks for reading and we will see you next week!


Samantha Carney

Photo Credit: David Salafia (https://flic.kr/p/a1STHg)