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Really! There ARE Things To Do With a Kid in a Temper Tantrum

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There you are, in the store with your adorable smiling toddler. All of a sudden, it happens, a tantrum, and you can’t even think of things to do with a kid in a temper tantrum. You have studied this problem, talked about it with other Moms and even came up with a list of some things to do with a kid during the chaos. But you are pretty sure that all of your new found knowledge will evaporate when the tantrum happens. Especially if the dreaded tantrum occurs in public or even worse in front of your extremely judgmental in-laws.

We have all seen it, heard it, done it (that’s right you probably did it as a child and hopefully you aren’t doing it any longer. If so, well , that’s another topic.) The temper tantrum is the most feared behavior that parents have to get through. Well, fear not, there are some things to do with a kid even in the middle of a tantrum.

Unfortunately temper tantrums are part of normal childhood development. Most kids have tantrums between the ages of one to three. Thus the common phrase “the terrible two’s”. They arise at any opportunity, with any child, and with any parent. But most frequently in front of a bunch of people, who all seem ready to send you to hell for allowing “that child to scream like THAT!”. There just doesn’t seem to be anything you can do with a kid in a tantrum.

That’s right we have all gone through it, and if you try to deny it we all know you are lying. While your little bundle of joy is writhing and kicking on the store floor, your pulling your hair out and thinking why, why, WHY ME? And you think there just aren’t a lot of things to do with a kid in this state, except physically hauling them out of the store. It’s hard to believe that your child isn’t out to get revenge for you not letting him take a piece of dead bubble gum off the wheel of your cart. It doesn’t matter how you try or what you say to logically get the point across that the gum isn’t good anymore. I mean it obviously has parking lot debris and bits and pieces of old food and maybe even squished bananas on it, actually embedded in it. And junior WANTS it NOW! NOW! NOW!

Every child’s personality is completely different therefore temper tantrums vary greatly as well. Some kids hold their breath, kick, hit, fall on the ground, yell, scream (I mean like an angry Dolphin – absolutely ear shattering) writhe on the floor and on and on. My son actually loved to do the monkey hang, when I would grab his hand to drag him out of a store, he could actually make every joint in his entire body move in multiple directions. He did this while screaming as if I have just fatally wounded him. And then unbelievably, he had the ability to make his body turn into a slippery water balloon that is impossible to hold onto, and becomes a immovable puddle right in the middle of the checkout lane. I’m not even sure what things I did to the kid to warrant THIS! I mean, Come on!! Really?

Sometimes you really want to just walk away and pretend it isn’t my puddle, no really it isn’t mine.

Apparently running away from the chaos and your child is not socially acceptable. But one can dream, right? So I would try to pick him up and half carry half drag him out of the store, taking breaks as necessary and desperately trying NOT to drop him.

So, what things do we do to a kid to turn them into a screaming mass? Believe it or not, it’s usually not what we as parents do; it’s the kid’s frustration that does it. Kids can’t verbalize what they want or need and become upset when mom or dad just don’t get it! They are trying to have more control of their environment but they can’t and they don’t understand why nor can they explain their feelings to you. They might be tired, hungry or just grumpy and not even know what they want.

Children understand more about things around them, then what they can verbalize about the things around them. As their language skills improve the frequency and severity of tantrums decrease. The thing to do with a kid in the middle of a tantrum is to keep your cool, and keep your voice low. I know, impossible you say. But try to empathize. How would you feel if you could start your car put it in gear and push the gas pedal and NOTHING happens, I mean nothing and there isn’t a logical reason as to why the darn thing won’t work. Then to top it all off you are not able to explain what is going with your car on to anybody. How frustrated would you be? You might even want to have a tantrum yourself. But as an adult you can’t.

There are also things you can do with a kid prior to the tantrum. Prior to going out on a shopping trip, explain to the child how he should behave. Give the child a goal, if you are good while we are at the store you can watch your favorite movie. Try not to bribe with an item from the store. Above all let the child know that he will NOT get what he wants if he has a tantrum. And then the really hard part is to stick to that statement. If you give in to a tantrum once they will believe that you will give in again and again.

I guess there is another thing that you can try to do with your kid, it’s to not go out. Or never take the kid with you. Both of which are really not realistic things to do to a kid that has tantrums. Try to remember to stay calm, keep your voice quiet, don’t give in to the child and remove them from the environment. Yes that means even if you’re not done take them out of the store and if the tantrum doesn’t subside take them home. Most importantly, DO NOT listen to all the comments from fellow shoppers who think they know what things to do with the kid to shut him up.

Really! There ARE Things To Do With a Kid in a Temper Tantrum
General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.

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