Monday, August 4, 2008

How To Dismantle a Toddler Tantrum

A week or so into the "Terrible Twos" and so far, so good. No heads spinning or Chernobyl-scale meltdowns. Though I have to say, I have noticed a difference in my little one's behavior over the last few weeks. It largely centers around her asserting her independence ("NO!") and testing her limits. And while I feel we've been navigating these waters with relative success, I can see that there might be some squalls ahead, if I don't stay aware of what she's doing and how I handle it.

Over at Cookie, I found this great little Q & A with Alan Kazdin, Ph.D. and President of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. His angle is to praise and reinforce good behavior, rather than focusing on--and punishing--bad behavior. He addresses tantrums and time outs and outlines practical ways for fostering a more respectful family environment. His tips are simple and make sense. The key, it seems, is consistency, which is the difference between "the lab" and the real world.

Any other advice from Mamas who've been here before?


Meghan said...

I am anxious to read other's advise. My little man has been in the terrible two's for about 4 or 5 months now & he won't be 2 til Aug 16th.

Good times!
Good times!

I have to read that article.

Meaghan said...

Good times indeed! Maybe he'll stop sooner, since he started sooner?

There's always hope.

Stace said...

My son is 2 1/2 now, and he has been really good. Until just recently, and even then, i wouldn't say he's awful. He does have his moments. I know that if he does something naughty or has a tantrum while at his dad's house, he sits him on the 'naughty step'. Which i have heard works quite well. However, that doesn't really appeal to me. If my little one has a tantrum (whether at home, or out) I always wait until he has finished, and then calmly get down on his level and get him to look me in the eyes, and i explain to him, why he can't have something, or why it was wrong to do whe he did etc. I always try to explain to him the dangers in what he's done, or why he can't have any chocolate. I find it works wonders, because instead of just plain saying NO, DONT DO THAT. Or NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE THAT, he understands WHY i have said no. He always seems to listen and take it in. It doesn't always stop him from doing it again the next day, but it does help calm him down and he doesn't get more angry or upset in the end, because i am not punishing him, as such. (This works well with my son, but it may not work well for children who are younger... or even the same age as him. He has always seems smarter than his age! Hence, the understanding.) Anyway, sorry for the novel! :) Hope that may help.

Meaghan said...

Stace, this is good advice I think. I try to handle my little one with the same patience.

And that's what it boils down to, after all, right? Our patience as mothers, as parents. So much of this--like everything else--is up to us and our awareness of our own behavior.

Being an adult is rough!