Ways to Handle Kids Temper Tantrums

Kids throw temper tantrums. It happens. It’s usually not a big deal because it’s at home, but for the second time in her life, my four-year-old just threw a very, very public temper tantrum, and I was mortified. See, she starts VPK next week, and her school suggested bringing her in a few days this week to spend a few hours in the daycare class to get acclimated to the environment before she starts (I’m a stay at home mom, so she’s never been in a classroom setting). I did just that, thinking I’d rather she cried when I left on a day I could take her if I thought I needed to, rather than on the first day of school. Fortunately, she was happy to go to school and never cried once. In fact, she didn’t even say goodbye to me.

However, when I picked her up three hours later, she lost her mind. She began screaming at the top of her lungs – in the middle of the classroom – and stomping her feet while swinging her arms wildly. While carrying my one-year-old in one arm, I actually had to drag my four-year-old out of the school and into my car while she fought me with every bit of strength – and all the power of her vocal cords – she could muster. I was mortified. I wanted the ground to open up and swallow me. How do you punish a child when she behaves that way, when you’ve never experienced anything like it before? How do you punish you child in public when all you want to do is grab her by the arms, shake her for a second, and yell at her? Here are a few tips.

Do Not React

I chose the route of non-reaction. I did not indicate that I noticed her poor behavior in the least. I talked to her teachers, I talked to her sister, and I listened to her scream at me and kick my seat the entire ride home. I then took her favorite dolls out of her room and took them away. I calmly explained to her that her behavior was unacceptable and that there are consequences for her actions. She spent the next four minutes in time out, and she was not permitted to play outside the rest of the day. Reacting to your child’s poor behavior by giving in teaches them that they can act this way and get what they want. Reacting by yelling or screaming just makes it worse, and doesn’t offer any benefits.

Be Proactive

Now that I know my child apparently hates it at home and loves school, I’m prepared for next week. My plan is to warn my daughter in the car before school that I will be there at noon, and that she should expect me. I will tell her that if she behaves poorly, she will lose another toy, not get to play outside, and she will go to bed directly after dinner. I will also explain to her that if she is good all week when I pick her up, I will be very proud of her, and we can stop for her favorite m&m cookie on the way home the last day of the week.

Acknowledge the Child’s Feelings

One thing you have to do is acknowledge your kid’s feelings, or they will feel like you don’t understand. Upon arriving home and spending time in time out, I then spoke to my daughter. I explained to her that I understand it’s frustrating when you have to leave somewhere you’re having so much fun, that that there are rules we have to live with. I explain to her that I feel sad when we have to leave Disney World, but that I know we get to come back in a few weeks, so I don’t cry. I also informed her that I understand she had a lot of fun at school, but that she gets to go every single morning.


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