This may sound bizarre, but it is actually my number one strategy. This doesn't always work but very often it does. Why? Because children tantrum for attention and when they do not get it they learn that such behavior is not an acceptable or effective means of getting what they want. Walking away also gives little ones the minute or two they usually need to work through the overwhelming emotions they are having. If after a few minutes my child is still flipping out I move on to trying other tactics.
One of the biggest reasons kids tantrum is because you are not giving them something they want, whether it be the candy bar they see in the check out line or your phone to play with (tell me my kids aren't the only ones who always want my phone). Distracting them from the desirable object is actually pretty easy, at least a lot of the time. Tell them you have something exciting to show them and point to something, suddenly and excitedly tell them a secret, start singing their favorite song.......... any number of things can grab their attention and make them forget all about whatever it was they were tantruming for.
Is your child hungry, thirsty, or tired? All of the above can make a kid cranky and more prone to tantrums. When your child is tantruming, especially if it is more than once close together, ask yourself if they could be hungry or thirsty. Offer them a snack. Is it past nap time? Maybe put them down a little early even.
Are there certain times your child is prone to having temper tantrums? Does your little one have a hard time sitting for dinner or sharing with their friends during play group? Do they battle you at bath time or flip out before bed? Consider these tantrum triggers and try to get ahead of them. Talk to your child before high trigger times and encourage them. How about an extra story before bed if they get a bath with no fuss? If they start to tantrum or go squirrelly I simply remind them of the incentive.
It is so easy for mom to get worked up during a child's tantrum and even throw a bit of a tantrum of her own. Raising your voice, yelling, and getting agitated will only feed the tantruming child's negative behavior. Try your hardest to remain calm and to portray relative patience. If you begin to lose your cool it is honestly better to just walk away for a few minutes. Give both you and your child the time needed to process and work through the emotions.
When we are out and about and I have an audience watching my child flail and scream it is easy to feel like giving into the the tantrum and giving the child whatever it is they want to get them to stop. DON'T! Do this and your child will soon think that the tantruming behavior is an acceptable way to get what they want. They need to know and learn that bad behavior does not reap positive outcomes.
This is just another form of diversion but my does it do wonders! Many a tantrum has been tamed by starting a tickle fest. I mean, who can stay angry or enraged while being tickled? Not my girls!
This falls under the same thought process as tickling. Acting silly captures the child's attention while also (hopefully) turning their frown upside down. Make funny faces, jump up and down, make animal noises.... anything to get that tantruming tot under control, right?
I was not born the most patient person and am guilty of throwing adult sized tantrums from time to time. Since becoming a mom I continually try to teach myself to be more calm so that I am a good role model for my girls. If they see me getting frazzled easily that is how they will learn to react, too. When your patience begins to stretch thin remember to breath, count to ten, and take it all in stride. Likely, your kids will slowly learn that behavior and begin to do the same.
Often times a tantrum is really a child seeking attention. If a child feels like they are not getting the attention they crave they will go to whatever means they feel are necessary and prove effective. If your child begins acting out try giving them five minutes of positive one on one time once they are calm. It is amazing what five minutes of positive attention will do to a child's energies and emotions.