Although a regular scene, everyone who is waiting for the elevator stares at them: a three-year-old is stomping her foot, refusing to go home. She is throwing a temper tantrum and her mother’s at a loss!
Do you find yourself in similar situations? Most parents do.
Children can throw a lot of tantrums and we need to find means to distract them.
Experts believe that involving children in activities, when they are angry, redirects their negative energies and eases them off their grouchy behaviour.
Here’s a list of six such activities that can help:
Dhara sticks her tongue out and starts singing, “I’m a hungry doggie…I want food.” She even nods her head like a dog leaving her four-year-old in splits. Tanya was throwing a temper tantrum just about a few minutes ago, but has forgotten all about it.
Dhara hasn’t! “I speak to her about tantrums at my pace later. I don’t go all sermonising on her when she is angry,” she explains.
Singing silly songs when children are angry can help ease them out. You don’t need to sing per se, but just distract them with funny noises. Grunting like an animal, singing a rhyme, or even singing a prayer can do the trick. They cannot resist funny noises and immediately the mood shifts from anger to playfulness.
Singing works well when the tantrum is in the public. We indulge in a lot of mid-tantrum instructing or shouting when we are outdoors. But isn’t it better to have people smiling at your singing than staring at you for shouting?
Bring out your child’s favourite toy and start playing with it. Works best with preschoolers at home.
Children dislike sharing their toys. Even if your child doesn’t, he/she must have a favourite toy that gets all the attention. In a mid-tantrum crisis, you can start playing with it.
Slowly you will get your child’s attention and the temper will be forgotten. If the child joins you, allow that. Play for sometime before moving on with your work. Crisis averted!
This technique has proved its worth in gold since the time we were kids. Try it!
3) Create Something
“Most of our best paintings have been made when I was trying to distract Nimish,” says mom Hasmita. She’s showing me her son’s art book. “I offer him my time when he throws a tantrum, but never give in to his threats,” she continues.
She explains that her son is quite prone to getting hung up on things. The greed inadvertently leads to temper tantrums. Her distraction technique is creativity where they create or paint something together. Initially he’s reticent, but slowly gives in to his mom’s interesting ideas.
She keeps a huge collection of craft items—glitter, glue sticks, paints, colour papers, and so on. “The internet is full of ideas you know!” she adds-in a tone that says that she has enough ideas to last her a lifetime of tantrums.
Interesting, isn’t it?
4) Catch Me If You Can
One of the most interesting outings I’ve had in recent times is with a child specialist and a very fascinating mother.
Tina plays ‘catch me if you can’ with her son quite often. “But we play it the most when I know he’s about to throw a tantrum,” she explains.
“It’s my pet distraction technique,” she adds with gleaming eyes.
She says that tantrums are nothing, but misdirected energies of a child due to hunger or because the body needs something better to do. Exercising releases endorphins.
These hormones trigger a positive feeling in the body which is what a child needs when he/she is throwing a tantrum. Playing catch-up and running is a fun way of exercising–a good way to release anger.
“I just startle my son and say catch me if you can,” she explains, “and he never disappoints.”
5) Snack It Up
Hungry children are angry children! Between the ages two and five, temper tantrums know no bounds—especially when they are hungry. At this point, offering them regular food will not go down well. Thus, making a snack with them is a possible activity you can try.
“Would you like to bake a cake with mamma?” “Should we make some French fries for you?” or “I think it’s time to make ourselves a yummy cheese sandwich,” are a few offers you can make.
My son hates regular food and it’s often a task to feed him. This makes hunger tantrums a regular feature at my home. Offering him snacks is my favourite way of controlling his crabbiness. I lead him to the kitchen and ask him to choose a snack. We work as a team to make whatever that he has chosen.
6) Memory Tricks
“I quickly show him and then hide it behind me,” explains an animated Ritu. She’s explaining her tantrum-distracting activity and seems quite sure of it.
Ritu says that children’s span of attention is quite short. It’s impossible to think of new ideas every few hours for an ever-active child like hers. Besides, his tantrums never cease.
Since there is no dearth of things in the house, she has started using them for play. She chooses safe objects like spoons (read utensils), pens, water bottles, and so on for her trick.
She quickly shows and then hides them behind her back. “Tell me what it is?” she asks. The happiness with which her son responds cannot be expressed in words.
“He hardly ever misses the correct answer and hardly ever remembers his tantrum,” she winks!
So, what do you do when your child throws a temper tantrum? Share your ideas and favourite activities in the ‘Comments’ section below.
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