I can’t tell you how frustrated I am when my three year old throws a tantrum in the grocery store. It’s humiliating and it’s hard to know what to do or say. But if you’re like me, you don’t want them throwing a fit every time they have something they want-you just want them to listen! That’s why I’m going to share with you some of the things that work for us when trying to get our kids listening without them exploding. Let’s explore some different communication skills and techniques as well as what triggers certain behaviors so that we can stop this bad habit before it starts!
What is a tantrum?
When my kids throw tantrums, they’re usually because they’re tired, hungry, or mad about something. They could be hungry so they want to eat right now and not wait two more hours until lunch. Or maybe it’s the third time we’ve told them to get dressed and they still have on their pajamas-even though we’ve told them 10 times! They might be sad because they want to play with their friend that just left. Or it could be a hundred other things that I can’t even think of right now. My point is, we all get frustrated and throw tantrums at some point in our lives-even adults do it from time to time. However, when a child is throwing a fit, there are certain ways that you should handle the situation so as to not make things worse on yourself or your kid.
Do’s and Don’ts during a tantrum
First I will share with you my DO and DON’Ts during a tantrum: Do: Stay calm . Always remember that throwing a fit is not going to solve anything for either you or your child. Chances are, you’re already frustrated and they are too. This is a time to be as calm as possible so that you don’t say or do anything that can cause them to throw another fit. If they’re crying in the middle of the grocery store because they want candy, don’t yell back at them! You’ll only make things worse if you get mad too.
Do: Make promises . Making promises to kids when we’re trying to get them to listen without having some sort of meltdown is always something I strive for. For example, “Don’t cry-we’ll go get an ice cream cone after lunch.” Or maybe it’s “We have all this yummy food at home and you won’t be hungry for a long time, so let’s not throw a fit in here.” Or if they’re mad because you won’t let them play with their friends when to bedtime, “No more video games until tomorrow-let’s read a book in your room until it’s time for bed.” Do whatever you can to make promises that will work out okay for both you and your child. They get what they want but still listen to you.
Don’t: Don’t lose your cool . It might be hard (as I’m sure it is every time with me!) but stay calm and don’t lose your temper while trying to deal with the situation.
Do: Understand why throwing fits happen . When kids are tired or hungry or just don’t want to listen, it can be hard for them not to throw a fit. It’s as simple as that. A lot of kids don’t have the communication skills to say what they need or want at the time. For example, maybe you’re trying to get your child dressed and they don’t want to wear their snow pants because it’s hot outside and they are tired from playing last night. What do they do? They start screaming because you won’t let them go downstairs without wearing their winter clothes! This is an example of when my daughter starts throwing her fits-she doesn’t know how else to tell me she’s too hot so she freaks out until I give in and turn on the air conditioning (which is almost always what happens!)
Don’t: Get angry at yourself . It’s easy to get upset and frustrated when your kid is throwing a fit, but take the time to go back and try to think of why they are getting upset. For example; my daughter gets mad in the car when she’s tired because I won’t let her sleep or eat until we’ve arrived at our destination. If she knew how dangerous it would be for her in case we had an accident, she wouldn’t throw quite as many tantrums! Don’t: Be afraid to discipline your child . When you’re trying to get your kids listening without having them throw tantrums, this is the last thing that you want to do-but sometimes it has to happen. You don’t want to yell at your kid every time they throw a fit, but sometimes it’s necessary. If you remind them that when they are throwing fits like this then there will be consequences , such as no video game time for the rest of the day or no going out with their friends on Friday night until they stop doing these things.
Don’t: Whisper sweet nothings in their ears . Don’t let your child know that all of these tantrums and meltdowns can get them whatever they want because then you’ll never get anything done! You have to hold the line and let them know what is acceptable behavior.We all feel frustrated and angry at times, so trying to stay calm isn’t always possible-I totally understand this!
Do: Talk to your child calmly after they have thrown a fit . When your kids are throwing temper tantrums, try not to let it get on top of you. If you start yelling too, then things will only get worse! After they’ve calmed down and are ready for a more rational approach, try having them sit down with you so that you can talk about why they were upset. For example; my daughter flips out when we lose sight of her friends at the mall because she thinks that she won’t see them again (we do this every time!). I know that deep down, she just doesn’t want her friends to move away without saying goodbye-so during one of her fits I convinced her into sitting in the car while I went to get her friends and make sure they were coming back. Once I showed her that it wasn’t really a big deal and we were going to see them in just a few more minutes, she got over the tantrum pretty quickly!
Do: Use positive reinforcement . When your child is listening to what you are saying without throwing temper tantrums, reward them for their good behavior. For example; If my daughter listens when we go into a store (which is about once or twice a year because most stores don’t allow children under the age of 8), then she gets an ice cream after we’ve finished shopping! This way, she’s being rewarded for doing something that was expected of her anyway-not only does this work well with getting your kids to listen without throwing tantrums, but it also works with their behavior outside of stores too (such as not throwing fits or begging for things they want).
Do: Talk about why your kid is upset . When you’re trying to get your kids listening without having them throw temper tantrums, sometimes they just need a little extra attention. Your child might be feeling lonely or scared when you are trying to go out and do something-if this is the case, try talking about what’s bothering them; maybe it will give you some insight into how else to deal with the situation in the future! For example; my daughter gets mad every time we go shopping because she wants me all to herself and doesn’t like sharing me with other people-because of this, I try to avoid taking her clothes shopping (which is when she usually throws a fit) because there are so many people around to take care of things while we’re trying on clothes.
Don’t: Tell your kid that you’ll do something later . If you want your child to listen without throwing tantrums, you have to follow through. You don’t want for them anymore than they want from you when they’re throwing tantrums! Don’t forget about the promises that you make, however small and insignificant they might be; if you tell your kids that they can play with their new toy in 5 minutes when it’s time for dinner and then proceed to put it away before they’ve even finished eating, they aren’t going to listen the next time you ask them to do something, or they’ll only be half-listening because they already know that you’re not going to do what you say.
Do: Give your child a clear warning before redirecting their behaviors . When trying to get your kids listening without having them throw tantrums, it’s important that when you tell them what they are doing wrong, you have at least five seconds for them to stop whatever they are doing before redirection. Once you’ve told them what they need to do and gave them some time, follow through with the consequences that could affect them in an unpleasant way; for example; If my daughter is throwing her toys around while we’re on our way somewhere, I’ll tell her to stop. If she doesn’t, I’ll pull over and take away the toy until we get to where we’re going-this way, she has time to listen without throwing tantrums and knows that there are consequences if she doesn’t listen.
How to stop a tantrum before it starts
Know the triggers that make your kid throw a tantrum. This will help you to anticipate the next time it might happen and avoid all pitfalls in order to prevent it from happening again. For example, if you find out that your child throws tantrums only when they see things like toy trucks or superheroes-AND they get upset when someone tries to take them away, try avoiding letting them have access to those kinds of items when they are cranky, which could be before bedtime or after long errands.
When giving instructions, give one instruction at a time instead of several at once. One way is by using what’s called ‘chunking.’ Here’s how chunking works: Chunking is having your child do individual tasks or chores that you are requiring them to do for instance: ‘First, we’re going to go put the clothes in the laundry basket,’ then after they’re done with that you give them their next task, ‘Then, we’ll move on to putting away these toys and books into your room.’ This helps because it gives them a clear path of instructions without getting confused. Let them know what to expect. Since kids will ask questions about what’s happening, this also allows you to teach your child things like how certain chores correlate together or why one thing is done before another. It won’t take long until your kid is more knowledgeable and can think independently from doing this! Praise positive behaviors.
Hearing positive words like ‘good job’ and ‘you’re being really helpful today,’ can make anyone happy. Sometimes it feels good to be acknowledged for doing something right, even if it’s just cleaning up one mess instead of the whole house you’ll want to praise a job well done! When children feel as though they are doing things that their parents approve of, this will encourage them to want to continue their behavior in order to hear positive words again-and remember that is how you know you’ve got an awesome kid!
Think about what your child is feeling. If you have some free time and your kid knows how to get along with others (or is at least trying), let them go play with other kids so that they can practice their listening skills.
Ways to get your child to listen without throwing a fit
Give them physical exercises before listening-like getting them to do sit-ups or jumping jacks. If your child isn’t listening because they are tired, this will get their energy out and keep them focused on what you’re saying instead of being cranky.
Set clear expectations-this will let your child know exactly what is expected of them so that when they have a hard time hearing you they can refer to these rules again. This also allows your children to feel more independent as they try to follow the rules without asking for clarification at all times!
Use ‘catch’ phrases that describe good behavior. Catch phrases like “I’m trying really, really hard,” “I’m working on it,” or “that’s right!” could turn around a child’s behavior and make them think: ‘Oh, Mom said that this is exactly what she wants me to do. If I could hear it from her instead of getting mad when she says it, then I’ll try harder.’
Like rewards? Use them! These could be as simple as candy or toys-but offering incentives will let your kids know that they can get something good if they listen well. Most of the time, children don’t throw tantrums with their parents because they WANT to treat you badly-they just want to have fun. By giving them an incentive for listening well, this may help them realize that they get more out of training than playing up!
Listen while your kid talks-this will show your child that you care about what they have to say. If your child is using a lot of words and sentences like ‘and’ or ‘but’ in a sentence, it’s probably their way of saying that they want to be heard! Even if they are still talking over you, see if you can just listen while they speak so that maybe next time when things aren’t as busy for them, they might try listening more attentively instead of throwing complete fits.
If all else fails-you’re bound to encounter situations where your kids throw tantrums simply because they are tired and cranky from playing. It’s true: some days kids just don’t want to listen no matter how hard we try! Maybe sometimes life is hectic and there are just too many people around-if this is the case, sometimes it’s best just to let your kids get out their frustrations. When they get tired of being upset or mad, they’ll be more open to listening.
Tips on how to communicate with your child in an effective way so that they will listen and understand what you are telling them
When talking to your child, tell them what you want them to specifically do instead of just telling them ‘no.’ For example:
“No running! You are not supposed to run in the house.”
If you’re telling your kids NOT to do something, try using a positive statement rather than a negative one. Instead of saying “don’t get dirty,” say “stay clean and dry.” This will give your children better listening skills because they’ll be able to understand exactly what you expect from them.
If your kid is too young to focus on more than one thing at a time (like Mommy cleaning up their room while they play), let them know that when it’s time for school or reading time, they can play. This way, your children know exactly what to expect when they’re listening to you and will be better able to concentrate on the important stuff!
Instead of saying “shut up,” say “please stop talking.” Instead of saying ‘I’m gonna get you,’ say, ‘I’m going to count to three.’ Don’t just say one thing or it won’t sink in for them-say something more than once so that your kids can pay attention!
Use songs. If your child needs reminders about things like taking their medicine or getting ready for school, use songs with simple lyrics so that they’ll remember what to do! Try using popular nursery rhymes from memory; if they don’t know it, introduce it as a new song and they’ll go along with it. If there is an activity coming up that your child needs to good at, like potty-training or learning the alphabet, pick songs that you can sing to them during those activities!
If you want your kids to listen without throwing tantrums, offer them something if they do. Maybe this could be a new toy or a fun game. This will show your children that listening to you isn’t so hard-you’re not asking for too much when all they have to do is listen for 15 minutes straight! It’s easier than yelling at them and saying stop! Stop! STOP!! And besides, giving them something incentivizes their behavior while showing them how well listening works out for them!
If you want your kids to listen without throwing tantrums, tell them what they get from it. For example:
“You’re going to be a great big brother or sister because you are listening so well! When Mommy asks you to do something, it will make her feel good if you do it!”
If your kid is getting frustrated, ask them questions that will keep their attention on the subject at hand. If your child is whiny and wants more juice, have them tell you more about why they like juice. This way, they’ll forget about being thirsty (temporarily) and be able to focus on what’s really important-talking! Choose a question that your kids can answer easily; if the question is too hard, they’ll just get frustrated. Sometimes it’s best to go with simple.
I know that getting your kids to listen without throwing tantrums is a great way to make sure that you are heard and to keep things as calm as possible in the house. If you want this more than anything, try these techniques-they work! And remember: if your kid has a tantrum because he or she doesn’t understand what you’re saying, use facial expressions and tone of voice instead! It could be the difference between hearing them reply “okay” and hearing them throw even another tantrum!