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Handling Tantrums in a Non-Physical Way

Question:

My 8-year-old son was recently throwing a tantrum and was kicking me. When he would not stop, I held his legs. This created more of a power struggle. I held tighter; he cried more and became scared. I should have simply walked away.  Now I am worried that I have violated his trust.

Answer:

As parents, we are going to make mistakes. The important thing is to learn from these mistakes and try not to repeat them. Anytime a child is having a tantrum or is acting out of control, parents should avoid being physical in return or restraining him or her. This usually intensifies the problem and teaches the child that in order to calm himself, he needs to be held down. Our kids need to learn self-control when they get upset. 

Talk to your son, and explain that both of you made poor choices. Talk about what went wrong and what you can do differently next time. Then practice this scenario: Pretend he is upset and walk him through your new verbal de-escalation plan, which should consist of you telling him that he needs to use self-control.

Have him pick something that he would like to use (deep breaths, jumping jacks or a cold washcloth for his neck, for example), and then have him use this method in front of you. Practicing self-control is important because in the heat of the moment, we think with our emotions and not our brains. So it is best if self-control comes naturally to us, and practice helps.
 

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