Do you remember being young and how much fun it was to pretend, to lose yourself in a fantasy of nonsensical fun and laughter? We all did and we need to remember that, the next time our kids begin to “act-out” or tantrum. There are simple solutions to diverting a raging tantrum into a creativity-fest!
Using your creativity turn a wild crowd of kids into a silenced angelic gathering by having them compete at playing the “quiet game”. See who can be quiet for the longest amount of time, offering a prize to the winner. You pick the prize, such as a favorite meal for dinner, a trip to the park, or even a quarter once there’s a winner, and repeat as necessary.
Everyone will win if you keep a collection of “dress-up” clothes, hats, and sunglasses, for the perfect distraction when drama kings or queens get out of control. Encourage your child to pick a character and turn their tantrum into a play or act out a movie. You’ll find they will be able to channel any emotion into a character, with the correct wardrobe and props.
Your child’s personalized dress-up collection doesn’t have to be expensive. It can be as simple as past Halloween costumes, yard sale construction belts, cowboy boots, or worn Easter hats and dresses. Smaller children may also like hand or finger puppets in their repertoire. We had police and firemen’s helmets and coats, construction hard-hats, ballet tutus, super-hero capes, ladybug wings and antenna, cowboy/cowgirl hat and vest, heart and star-shaped sunglasses, fairy wings and a welder’s visor. It was great fun.
What’s not fun is when a tantrum happens at the bank, grocery store or during a meeting your child has accompanied you to. Unless you’ve brought your child’s dress-up wardrobe, encouraging movie character rolls won’t help when your out and about. Try to ignore any loud, unbecoming behavior, remembering how much you love your child.
Allow them to kick, scream, and roll around on the floor if necessary, as long as they agree to be safe. Safe tantrums have rules and make sure your child abides by them. Those rules include no head-banging, no fists on glass tables or windows, move out of the way of shopping carts, never in the street, and your child must stay by your side while you pretend to ignore their bad behavior.
If a tantrum escalates into more than you can ignore, take your child into another room or back to the car calmly explaining that neither of you will be able to go back into the store, bank or meeting until the tantrum is over. As children have trouble figuring out and then verbalizing when they are tired, hungry or thirsty, start by offering a bottle, snack, diaper change or all of the above. And never plan anything at nap time!
Your child’s happy disposition can be sustained indefinitely with a daily nap, and early bedtime. When your child’s needs are being met and are getting enough sleep, yet are still displaying emotional outbursts and tantrums to get their own way, enroll them in a theatrical class.
Most communities offer acting, drama, dance, and theatrical classes. Allow your children to choose their favorite class or classes and watch them channel all that extra emotional energy into a creative hobby, or professional endeavor. These necessary interventions will work just as soon as your child realizes their tantrums cannot deter you from turning a negative into a positive situation.