Show Your Kids How to Throw a Temper Tantrum -
by Susie E. Caron © 2/22/2015
I want to teach you how to show even very young children (3 & up) how to have a safe temper tantrum. You may think,
“This is crazy! The last thing I want to do is to encourage my kids to have tantrums.”
Maybe so, but I’ll bet you worry when your kids tantrum so hard that they begin to hurt themselves, or others, or even destroy property. I’ll be you don’t enjoy it when your children yell and say terrible things to you and other family members.
What if you could do something to make sure your child is safe, at least while tantruming? What if doing something pretty simple also reduces the length and severity? The little drill, that I am about to teach you, does both. Even if you have children who tantrum for over an hour this little demonstration really helps keep them safe, reduces the severity of the tantrum and the length of time it continues. Here’s how.
One day, gather your kids together, and excitedly tell them,
“I’ve learned how to have a really good, safe tantrum and I’m going to teach you how.”
Invite them to follow you to your bedroom. There, YOU will lay on your bed face down and say,
“Now watch because this is how I want you to have your tantrums from now on - and stay safe.”
While lying on your bad face down, begin to yell or cry into your pillow, pound on your bed with your fists, and kick your toes on the mattress. Don’t make it too scary (especially if your kids are of preschool age) but make it pretty convincing. In about 30 seconds, abruptly stop, look at them and say,
“Are you watching? Because I want you to learn how to do this correctly. Now watch.”
Then begin to pound the bed and yell again.
Continue for about 30 seconds more and stop. Next, get up and encourage them to go to their beds to practice. Depending on their ages, they may or may not want to 'practice' and that’s okay. Just let them go back to playing and remind them,
“Okay, But remember this is how you will have a safe tantrum from now on, and I'll remind you to get on your bed if you need to feel your feelings in a tantrum."
After demonstrating safe tantrums, you have accomplished three amazing things:
1. Your children will never, ever again tantrum without picturing you, on your bed, face down, performing a tantrum in front of them. (Can you imagine?!)
2. Your children will not enjoy their tantrums, as much as they did at first, because you just gave them permission to have tantrums. (But don't worry, they will likely do them less because you took the fun and power out of performing.)
3. You will have provided a way to send the ‘ready to tantrum’ children to their rooms as soon as you notice the possibility of a tantrum erupting. Just say,
“Oh quick, go to your bed and have your tantrum, I want you to be safe.”
These steps will help your young children to stop tantruming. Try it! It's safe. It's fun and it works.
PS. For children under 3 years it is best to use other means to calm them. What you do depends upon the situation and the child's temperament. Children under 3 years old need you to teach them how to 'self-soothe' so they can calm down and rejoin the family fun.
What do you think about demonstrating tantrums to your kids? Please comment below.
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Twee' means you and me &
Together we can build great kids.
Susie E. Caron
How to respond to kid's bad & hurtful words.
by Susie E. Caron © 2/15/15
I just got called a "Butt-Head"! I was engaged in a lively, playful chat with a little client. She skipped down the hall and into the play therapy room. Then she added, "You're a Butt-Head " along with a nervous giggle. Then she tilted her head and waited to see what I'd say or do.
I found this interesting and curious. I wondered what it meant. A part of me wondered if I’d put on a few pounds during Christmas. And, of course, there was a part of me that wanted to scold her for calling me a name. However, as her therapist, I didn’t want to do that. Instead, I paused a moment and think about what she expected me to do and how I could use this experience to help her grow. (I will tell you how I responded later in this article.)
That scenario got me to thinking about kids, their development, their propensity to use nasty words, like name calling and swear words. I also thought about how most adults react to such things. Most adults tell kids something like "Don't swear." or Don't call names, or they punish kids, with little success. There is a response that works much better. I'll tell you what that looks like. However, first I want to describe why kids ‘try’ using even distasteful words.
Why kids must ‘try.’
Kids just must try things out. It’s part of their DNA, Programming. They are always trying out something new or different. They are programmed to ‘try’ - to crawl, walk, run, swing, climb, ride bikes, play sports, and eventually even drive cars. Why do we become so surprised when they ‘try out’ different words as well? We know that they are capable of saying words just to be mean. However, they also try out words to learn about them and to see how adults respond.
My therapeutic response to this child client.
This child had called me a “Butt-Head” while she was still in the hallway, so when we entered the therapy room, I reminded her of the rules. “Gwen”, (not her real name) I said, “Remember that in the therapy room you may use whatever words you think you need. However, outside of this room, it’s never okay to call anyone names.” Gwen grinned at me and didn’t use the word “Butt-Head” again that day, or any other name calling words from her in any sessions following. My response to Gwen, showed her that I accepted her entirely (even her words) but I set limits on their use. This helped her to feel good about herself. It also subtly conveyed my belief that she could more wisely choose the words she uses in the future.
What you can do as a parent.
I know that you don’t want to say the same thing I did. But, you can address the words kids use as calmly as I did. Instead of reacting to bad words, name calling etc. Pause and think a moment about the child’s likely purpose behind the words. Sometimes words are just words. Sometimes they are spoken to try to figure out what they mean. Sometimes they are spoken to hurt people’s feelings. Sometimes, words convey deep feelings. Often kids use words that push your buttons and make you feel like yelling or punishing the child. However, when you get reactive, yell or punish kids for using such words, you inadvertently over-focus on the words and actually perpetuate their repetition.
How can you respond to reduce these hurtful words? This is what I recommend.
First, if kids are just playing and you overhear words, let them play, but have a chat with your children later about the words you heard. You could look them up in the dictionary or tell them what the words mean and what your rules are about them. You could say for example:
“I heard you calling each other the name ____________. Did you know that can be very hurtful? It means (or it makes people feel ---) I believe that you can use better words from now on when you play. Our house rules say ‘No name calling'.” Please remember this where ever you play.”
If children yell at you and use words you don’t like. Repeat the words and say something like:
“John you just told me you hated me.”
Then tell him calmly how that makes you feel.
“I feel sad when you say that, and, I want you to know, I love you and I will always love you.” Now tell him,
“Instead of saying you hate me, how about telling me “I’m really mad, or disappointed or sad about this Mom (Dad). Then I understand what’s upsetting you and we can talk about it.”
One note of caution: If John (Jane) is yelling and using bad words, he will need a cooling off period before you can use the sentences I just described. Send him to his room, or outdoors to calm down. When he returns, just accept him fully back into the family activity. (Without a lecture.)This is not the time to discuss his behaviors or words. Instead, wait until you both are in a better mood and sit down with him to chat calmly about the upsetting event. This will go much better for you both and you can restore your connection to one another at this time.
Hopefully these tips will help you respond rather than react to your childs’ trying’ words that hurt.
Remember Twee’ means you and me,
And together we can build great kids.
Susie E. Caron
This Easy 3 Magic Ingredient Snack Solves After School Angst
by Susie E. Caron © 2/8/15
The hours after school and prior to dinner are some of the most difficult for both kids and adults. Everyone comes home tired, hungry, and emptied-out from the day. This results in crankiness, and arguments. Parents rush around trying to get a few more errands or chores done. Kids grab a few crackers, cookies, and soda or they ‘just wait’ because dinner will be served ‘soon’. Crankiness and arguing cause a lot of unnecessary stress and unhappiness in the family. Most parents wish they had a simple solution for this problem. They ask me, "How can I make after school times easier for us all?
Before I answer that, you need to know the most common reason for afternoon angst: by late afternoon there is a significant drop in everyone’s blood sugar levels. This means thinking is more difficult, feelings are raw and no one is very agreeable. However, usually after dinner everyone seems to feel better. Parents are often puzzled about this because their kids ‘had a snack’ so what's the difference?
For a snack to work, and to adequately improve blood sugar levels and moods, it must provide three essential ingredients (described below). Provide this snack as soon as kids hang up their belongings and wash their hands and you will begin to see the benefits. This magic 3 ingredient snack is nutritional enough that it won’t spoil dinner and can be an early part of dinner. For best results it’s important to develop this as an ongoing pattern for everyday, healthy, mid-afternoon snacks.
Here a way to set this new pattern in place.
Plan and prepare ahead this pattern for a colorful, healthy snack that includes something chewy, something sweet and some form of protein. (See below.) You may package these in baggies or plastic containers the evening before. If you arrive home before the kids make certain it is already out in plain sight. As they arrive greet them at the door and usher them through hanging up book bags, taking off outerwear, going to the bathroom and washing hands. (Don’t just tell them to do it. Walk them through it excitedly! Act like it's fun and as though they don’t have a choice. They'll go along with you because but you are being very funny and pleasant.) If kids come home before you arrive, make certain they know where you have stored the snack for that afternoon then join them when you can.
Whenever possible, it’s really great if you sit with them to eat, or drink your tea or coffee. Let them talk to you, but don’t pump them with questions. If they begin to complain, whine, or argue, tell them politely, "We will talk all about that in a little while. Right now we are just having snack together.
If this snack is presented the moment they arrive, they will gobble it up, because it’s the first thing they see. They will get some good nutrition, their blood sugar won't drop, and you'll get some good quality time with them. After they eat, they can go begin their homework or play. You'll discover then that they aren't fighting and getting into your space while you are cooking dinner. It is truly a 'win - win' for everyone.
Here are the 3 magic ingredients to include in every afternoon snack.
1. Something chewy: Celery, Carrot sticks, pickles, sliced apple or orange wedges. (Chewy foods make kids eat more slowly and that gives the next two items a chance to take effect.)
2. Something naturally Sweet: Raisens. Grapes, Craisens, Fruit Role Ups. 100% fruit juice. (Good natural sugar travels quickly into their blood stream and avoids the grumpies or melt downs.)
3. Some form of Protein: Peanut butter, string cheese, beef jerky, nuts & seeds. (Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep blood sugar from suddenly dropping again before dinner.)
By establishing this pattern of after school, healthy, fun, snacks and adding yourself whenever possible, you will set the tone for more pleasant afternoons and evenings with your kids.
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Twee’ Means You & Me
Working together to build good kids.
Susie E. Caron
Here's Why You Don’t Want to Say Don’t to Children
by Susie E. Caron ©2/1/15
Parents often get frustrated or even angry when children don’t listen and don't stop doing something at the parents’ request.
Have you said something like, “Don’t do that”? Or, perhaps you've told your children “Stop doing that!” The truth is that most young children, as well as older children, don’t respond easily to the words “Don’t”, or “Stop”. There are lots of interesting reasons for this, but they are too numerous to describe in this article. Instead, I will give you a better way to get your children to respond more often. All you have to do is change a few words.
Below are two scenarios. The first example will likely be very familiar to you. The second illustrates the change you will want to make.
4 year old Sally is jumping on your new couch, because she found it to be nice and bouncy. You don’t want her to do this for several reasons such as:
1. it’s new.
2. you don’t want her to jump on anyone else's couch.
3. she could fall and hurt herself.
As a result, you immediately say, “Sally, don’t jump on the couch.”
Sally is not hard of hearing, unusually defiant, or ignoring you, but she clearly doesn't stop. So you find yourself, raising your voice, getting agitated and even angry as you continue to tell her, (louder and louder) “Stop jumping on the couch! Don’t jump on our new couch! I told you get off the couch!”
This is clearly not getting you the results you want because
1. Sally is not listening, obeying, etc.
2. She is getting to practice defying you.
3. She is in danger of hurting herself, or the couch.
There is an easier way. As I mentioned above, "all you have to do is change a few words" to gain the desired result. Instead of telling your young child what you don’t want her to do, tell her exactly the behavior you do want. Below is an example of this.
4 year old Sally is jumping on your new bouncy couch. You immediately move into her direct view, 6 feet away, and while waving your hands excitedly, you say “Oh, Sally, Feet on the floor! Quick put your feet on the floor!”
To your delight and to ‘Sally’s’ surprise she jumps off the couch and finds herself suddenly on the floor. Now you can tell her your reason for the request. (I recommend you say something like, “Thank you Sally, I want you to be safe. Keeping your feet on the floor is safe.) If she grins and climbs aboard the couch again, you grin and repeat your command, “Feet belong on the floor.” And calmly and gently help her down. Then tell her “Good job, Thank you,” and distract her immediately with something that will be fun for her to do. For example, you could offer to play "Hide & Seek" or suggest you want to see how fast she can run and "time her running" from point to point outdoors. A fifteen minute span having fun with you will help remove the desire to go back to using up her energy by jumping on the couch.
This is just one example of how a simple change in your words can alter the outcome. No matter what situation you face, when you choose words that tell your children exactly what you want them to do, they will listen to you much better, and obey you more often. You will find yourself enjoying your children more and they will be happier too.
Thank you for reading. Remember to social share this by clicking on the links on the left. I'd also love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and tell me how this article helped you.
Twee' Means You & Me
Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!