Creative Child

Why Your Child Has the Final Say in Tantrums

by Deborah Song

Torturous temper tantrums and incessant whining cause most parents to want to pull their hair out. The understandable knee-jerk reaction, then, is to stop it. Immediately.

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“Now just calm down.”

“Cut that out!”

“Don’t hit him!"

“Stop whining!"

We say all of these phrases, not just once, twice but three times and more, with each repetition more amplified than before.

We do this in an attempt to control our children. But do we control our kids? The answer is no, says child psychologist Dr. Randy Cale. Not directly. The only thing you can control is their environment and the consequences of their actions. The final decision is up to them.

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Looking at parenting from this angle can be profoundly liberating, actually. Half the frustration of meeting a toddler in the throes of a tantrum is the performance anxiety parents often place on themselves. Parents feel the need to control their child on the spot, especially in public. Which is why, the most effective place to motivate your child to quit tantrums is at home.

Here are four empowering tips to help your child make the right choices.

Number 1: Tantrums = no attention!

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When parents run to their kids at the onset of a tantrum, whether to scold them or meet their demands, they are in essence giving their child what they want: immediate attention. Remember that where you keep investing your attention, negative or positive, is where your child will keep investing his energy. So ignore bad behavior. While this may, in the short term, continue to spark tantrums and perhaps ignite even more severe ones, the tantrums will cease when they see that their tantrums stop producing results.

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