Stopping Temper Tantrums Before They Start

Scream Savers, p.8

Whether a tantrum happens at Starbucks or at the grocery store, certain truths remain. Most important is that a meltdown is not a personal attack against you or a sign of bad parenting, says Dr. Rubinowitz: "It's probably just a child needing adult guidance to get through a normal developmental step." By providing that guidance -- teaching children that their actions have consequences and that they can handle negative emotions -- parents help kids learn to set personal limits and to soothe themselves as they grow.

Dr. Katz shares this story from his own family: "When my oldest child was 5, she threw something. I said, 'That's it -- you're going to bed.' And she cried. I said, 'It's okay, honey, you lost a privilege. Goodnight. I love you.' Then she calmed down and I heard, 'Goodnight, Daddy. I love you.' Being an effective parent means clearing the anger and focusing on solving the problem."

It also helps to keep your sense of humor, says playwright Rob Ackerman, a New York City dad whose play Tabletop ran off-Broadway this season. "Once, my daughter Elizabeth melted down in an airport store," says Ackerman. "It was one of the legendary moments my wife and I called 'Lizzie Tizzies.' This time, Elizabeth flopped to her belly and wailed. Loudly. As I tried in vain to calm her, a woman peered around the magazine rack. I expected her to glare. Instead, with a smile she asked, 'Two?'" 'Two,' I replied."

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Copyright © 2001. Reprinted with permission from the March 2001 issue of Child magazine

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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