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Handling The Toddler And The Tantrums

Jan 30, 2008
2 year olds. Don't you just love 'em? Especially when they are rolling around the floor having a good old tantrum. So, are there any tips for making the terrible twos a little less terrible?

First of all, don't be fooled by them! Just because they are little, just because they don't talk well, and haven't been around too long, doesn't meant they don't know exactly how to manipulate you to get what they want! Just like anyone else, whatever the age, they will do their best to get the things that they want. And if throwing a temper tantrum or whining, or any other such behavior works to get you to see things their way, then of course they will do it!

So, how do you deal with them? By using exactly the same principles as you would with an older child:

A. you need to be clear about what behaviors you will accept or not accept. Don't take on a battle if it really isn't important.

B. Secondly, avoid ambiguity. Give clear instructions in plain words. Don't insinuate or taunt. Your child will most likely not understand what you mean. Make your point and leave it at that; don't rub it in.

C. Once you have done that, then follow it up with action,

D. I don't mean that you have to punish them but you can use the 'manners chair' technique to give an idea what punishment is like. Here is how it works:

Place a small child's chair in a corner, facing into the room. Tell your child it is the 'manners chair' to teach manners when the child behaves badly. Whenever your child fails to do as told, just send him to the chair with words to the effect of: "Oh dear, you seem to have lost your good manners again. You had better go and sit in the chair until you find them again."

After some time when the child has 'found his manners', allow him to come off the chair. Till then, simply ignore him, especially if he is fussing or whining. Make sure you explain what he has done wrong so that he knows what to correct.

Some children are very sensitive. So, instead of making it sound like a punishment, you can make it light and playful by offering to help your child to find his manners again. Look under the chair, or in his pockets, or even in the shoes. This is a smart way of taking their attention away from whining to a more positive attitude. This also saves you the need to shout and be heard. Most children find the manners quite quickly.

After this little game, you can bring them back to the instruction you had earlier given and get that done whether it is finishing the meal or apologizing to the sister for thumping her!

The 'manners chair' is a positive way of telling your child what is expected of him. More often than not, children disobey instructions when they are not clearly given. Remember, manners are not taught in a day. You have to keep repeating and reinforcing them with awards and punishments. This is a fun way of doing it.

There is a danger that this in itself can become too much of a game for them since they get a lot of attention from you when you are helping them to find their manners. You will need to strike the right balance between "time-out" ie ignoring them, and a bit of assistance (since they are young, and this is all new to them).

This helps you remain calm and have a positive attitude. Let your child know you love him but you will not tolerate bad manners. Also, don't rub it in; tell him you think it was a mistake, and will be corrected. There should be no permanent scars of it.

Now, what about when you are out in public? The key there, as everywhere else, is that you have to mean what you say, say what you mean, and follow up with action.

So, how do you time out in public? Three options: 1. Sit them down in the aisle and do a kind of "manners chair" in which no one is going anywhere else until he has found his manners.

2. Take him out and do the 'manners chair' in the car. You can stay out and look away while he tries to find his manners. Don't shout and scream and don't lose patience. Above all, don't get into a discussion till the manners have been found.

3. If none of this works cancel the outing and go home and do the manners chair at home.

The good news is that you will not have to do this too often. Children are quick to learn provided you are firm and consistent. Just remember to stay calm and in control. Losing your temper will only make matters worse.

You will find all this and much more in my book. Here is the link - you can get started today.
About the Author
Tired of your toddler's temper tantrums? For tips on managing children's behaviors and for advice on How to Stop Temper Tantrums vist Dr. Noel Swanson's website, and check out his hugely popular manual, The GOOD CHILD Guide.
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