Tantrums and ADD
The adult who gives in to the tantrum and lets the child have his way is teaching the child that they can get what they want by having a tantrum. This is not something that you want a child to learn! Especially as the child ages and becomes larger, and more difficult to handle, this behavior can become dangerous. A teenager who doesn’t understand limits can be a serious problem for parents. When a child has been raised who is free of adult limits and guidance, there are times when the police need to be involved. The chances are pretty good that they are physically stronger than their adults, and restraint is no longer an option if they are hurting themselves or others.
A raging child in the middle of a full-blown tantrum is not able to reason, or listen to reason, period! Yelling is not productive, since it feeds into the chaos and rage that the child is feeling. The child in a full-blown tantrum is mentally out of control. They cannot "learn a lesson" while they are that upset. The child needs time and a quiet spot to calm down.
Children need to learn to self-calm when life's inevitable frustrations occur. Teaching a child how to do this is one of the best things you can do for him. Each child and their adults are different, but here are methods that work. Of course, you will need to tweak them to suit your situation.
Suggestions for Helping a child learn to calm himself:
*Have the child go to a quiet safe place. Designate a place where the child can go when he is out of control. This serves two purposes. First, it is easier to self-calm where it is quiet. It also removes the audience. Calming down works better when there is no audience to encourage the behavior.
*Start a dialogue with the child only after they have completely calmed. When you start the discussion, if the child's behavior starts to escalate again, stop talking immediately. Be supportive, but let the child be alone for more time to calm down. One way to show support is to say, "I know that you want to talk, but right now this is upsetting you again. We'll wait until you are ready and able to talk without getting upset." Do this as many times as you need to. Unless the child is able to discuss the problem without being angry or upset, it is not time to discuss. This process might take hours. That's okay! It is worth the wait.
*When the child is calm enough to talk, discuss what the situation was from the child's viewpoint. What were the options that were available for the child? For each option, the child should tell what the consequences, both positive and negative, might be. Using this framework, the child needs to figure out what would have been a better choice to make. The parent needs to lead the discussion in a calm and caring way. You must show empathy for your child.
Tantrums are caused by frustration and improved by adult actions that allow the child to self-calm. These actions need to be consistent. Some children are able to calm themselves with ease, while others need to be taught a procedure that allows them to handle their frustration appropriately. There is no golden method that works all of the time for every child. With patience and using the behavioral tools that you know work for your child, you can help your child learn to power through those difficult times when he feels out of control.
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