Managing the Meltdown: How to Handle Tantrums in Children

Monday, December 29, 2014 12:02 PM comments (0)

tantrumsEvery parent has been there at one point or another—at the mercy of his or her child’s tantrum in the checkout line at the grocery store, in a crowded restaurant or at home.  In a matter of minutes, your child goes from quiet and well-behaved to completely inconsolable. 

The good news is that temper tantrums are entirely normal, especially in toddlers. For toddlers, tantrums are often brought on by a young child’s inability to understand and cope with his/her emotions, emotions related to hunger, tiredness or feeling overwhelmed and over-stimulated. 

While it’s not possible to prevent every single emotional meltdown, there are ways to manage them. Leslie Deitch Noble, MD, Pediatrician at NorthShore, discusses some of the best techniques for approaching tantrums:

Don’t overschedule. Try not to overexert your child by packing too much into the daily schedule. This is not to say that every day needs to be the same, but when possible try not to push your child to the limits with errand running. A hungry or tired child is much more likely to act out. If you know you have a long day ahead, let your child know in advance so he or she will be better prepared for the change of pace.

Be consistent with your approach. Try your best to manage your child’s behavior during every tantrum. Encourage communication during a tantrum. Say, “Use your words” or ask clear questions to better understand what might be causing your child’s frustration. Lastly, do not give in. Letting your child have his or her way during a tantrum won’t help break the cycle, even if it ends the immediate tantrum. Ideally, you don’t want to give your child any attention—positive or negative—while he or she is having a tantrum. So, as long as you are not in public and your child is not going to hurt him or herself, the best approach is to completely ignore your child until the tantrum stops.

Distract. Distract. Distract. If you can, try to divert your child’s attention away from what may have prompted the tantrum in the first place. Be sure that you recognize that he or she maybe be upset by a situation, but then offer different options or new activities. For example, if your child has a tantrum over wanting a new toy or treat at the store, you can suggest that you find the “new” toy she got most recently when you go home. A similar approach can be tried with treats. If necessary, try to avoid going down aisles at stores that might prompt meltdowns.

Celebrate (and embrace) the good times. Let your children know when they are behaving well and encourage this type of behavior. Tell them how happy it makes you when they listen and follow the rules. Along with acknowledging good behavior (and even rewarding it), be sure your children know how much you love and care for them. Much of what triggers tantrums is children wanting to express their emotions and wanting attention.

Have questions about tantrums? Get answers from other parents and our team of experts in our new online community The Parent 'Hood. Find out more here: The Parent 'Hood

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Childproofing your Home – Keep your Kids Safe

Monday, February 13, 2012 2:16 PM comments (1)

Child Proof

Accidents involving children happen. The good news is that most of these accidents can be prevented by proper childproofing and preparation. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, accidents disable and kill more children than disease, drugs and kidnapping combined. It’s important to childproof your home early and to make adjustments as they get bigger and become more active and mobile.

Julie Holland, MD, pediatrician at NorthShore shares a few key tips for childproofing your home:

  • Cover all electric outlets. Be sure that cords for small appliances/electronics (radios, coffee makers, toasters and computers) are not within reach.
  • Secure all furniture and large electronics. Bookcases and shelves should be fastened and anchored to the wall, so they cannot be pulled or tipped over.
  • Be sure that televisions are properly installed to the wall and/or are properly positioned on a console. When selecting furniture to place your TV on, confirm that the weight limit is sufficient and appropriately sized for your TV. Make sure that your child cannot reach the TV or the electric cord, as either of these can cause the TV to topple over.
  • Place all small objects, trinkets and decorations out of reach. A good test for height is to go on your hands and knees. If you can reach it, so can your child.
  • Put soft covers on all furniture that has sharp edges. Cover any areas (especially fireplaces) with screens or pads.
  • Store all cleaning supplies, alcohol and other hazardous materials in a top cabinet. Be sure that all cabinets and drawers are properly secured and locked.
  • Confirm that all window blinds and curtains do not have cords hanging within reach, as these can be a choking hazard for young children. Do not place furniture too close to windows.

What have you done to childproof your home? What other child safety tips would you like to learn more about?

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For more household safety lists, visit:
•    KidsHealth
•    Safe Kids USA

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