Tot tantrums — 6 ways to avoid them

Frustrated? Check. Angry face? Check. Hissy fit about to start? Stop it with our easy tips!


You’ve promised yourself countless times to model courtesy to your young ’uns, but now you’re barking at your offspring like a market trader.

          Amid your frustration and shame, you realise three things. First, you are deafening everyone around you. Second, the children are ignoring you. And last — and this was most upsetting — you aren’t being the mum you’ve always wanted to be. Clinical professor and parenting expert Dr Daniel Siegel, who co-wrote No Drama Discipline, believes that by actually focusing on each situation and your children’s needs clearly, you can learn to deal with tricky moments in a calmer, quieter way.

          Here are his top tips…

1. Pause for 30 seconds 

“Before you respond to misbehaviour, take time to ask yourself three questions: ‘Why did my child act this way?’; ‘What lesson do I want to teach in this moment?’ and ‘How can I best teach this lesson?’,” Dr Siegel suggests. “This helps you think about which approach will be effective.” Stepping back from a situation for 30 seconds may stop you from reaching boiling point.

“If your child is screaming, don’t shout at him to stop — it’s sure to enrage the emotional downstairs brain.”

2. Reason with him

Scientific research proves that shouting doesn’t work. “When your child is born, parts of his brain are already fairly developed — like the ‘downstairs brain’, which helps control instincts,” explains Dr Siegel. “The developing ‘upstairs brain’ is for more complex reasoning. Try to discipline your children in a way that engages this upstairs brain. If your child is screaming, don’t shout at him to stop — it’s sure to enrage the emotional downstairs brain. Instead, help him to use reasoning. Try saying: ‘It’s hard, isn’t it? Can you tell me about it?’”

3. Be proactive

Your 3-year-old gets a look in his eye that you’ve learnt to recognise when he’s about to have a tantrum. But how can you stop it? “Sometimes you can spot a storm brewing — a hungry child is whining or your toddler is about to throw a toy,” Dr Siegel says. “If you think your child is about to act in a way that will require discipline, try to divert him before he gets there. Give your hungry child an apple, or ask the toddler if he wants to look inside your handbag. Being proactive can save you headaches down the line.”

Photo: iStock

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