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Ah! My kid is having a tantrum, and I want to scream

Kelly Wallace, CNN Video by Sandee LaMotte, Bryan Kane and Johnny Hutchens, CNN | 10/4/2017, 7:54 a.m.
Most parents have experienced it: that moment when their son or daughter has a full-blown temper tantrum, which may involve ...

The biggest mistake parents can make?

Totally giving in to the tantrum is never a good way to go, experts say, and children themselves seem to understand why that's not a good plan.

"That teaches them, 'Oh, my parents give in, so I can throw more tantrums and get everything I want,' " said Toniann Garruto, a fifth-grader.

A child might think, "Oh, I can throw a temper tantrum, and I can get a cookie if I stop, so I'm going to throw a temper tantrum five seconds later and then stop," said Sean Wescott, who's in middle school.

Casey, Sean's twin brother, added, "If you give in, that's going to occur more and more, and you don't want that to happen."

Too many parents (this mother included) don't realize that there are things you can do to prevent a meltdown, Ferrara said.

When kids are tired and hungry, they can't tell you what's going on, so it's probably best to avoid errands at the end of the day, when it's harder for kids to coordinate their emotions with their bodies, she said. (I joked in a previous story how I wished I had this information when my kids were little. Had I know then what I know now, I probably wouldn't have taken them grocery shopping right before dinner time!)

The "biggest mistake" parents make is going into situations "without a strategy," Ferrara said. "Do you go to the hairdresser without a plan? A business meeting? Go buy a car? No, but we always allow ourselves to fall into these potholes with our kids with no plan," she said.

If your child tends to have tantrums if they don't get what they want, you can tell them that how they behave is going to determine whether they are going to get to do something later, such as play with birthday presents or have a play date with friends.

And during an outing, if your child starts to behave in a way that is unacceptable, instead of getting into a verbal joust with them, you can say, " 'Do you want to play with your birthday presents?' You can remain clear and calm and communicate in a way" that they understand, Ferrara said.

There is always another option when your kid has a tantrum in a public place, joked Tyler Schlegel, a fifth-grader. If he were a parent, he said with a smile, "I'd go home."