Two very simple words, yet these words represent a very difficult thing to do when your child becomes angry or throws a tantrum. However, I have learned that if I let my child’s anger get me angry, then it results in an escalation of anger. Staying calm helps your child calm down, and has the added benefit of not raising your blood pressure. (Don’t forget your morning cup of coffee.)
2. Drone on like a broken record.
Staying matter-of-fact and monotonously repeating your calm instruction helps your child realize that his or her emotional outburst is not changing your stance or approach. (Take another sip of your coffee, repeat, sip, repeat).
3. Use logic.
Though there are times and children who will defy all the logic you try, I high percentage of the time, if you use logic and consistency you will reap great benefits. One of my favorite resources in helping parents use logic with their children is Parenting With Love and Logic by Cline and Fay. (Read and utilize the tips while drinking your cup of coffee).
This is another tip that I believe I learned from Cline and Fay’s book, as well as from other resources along the way. Sometimes our children (like all of us) have to do things they do not enjoy, and/or face consequences for misdeeds or bad behavior. As parents, we can offer love, compassion, and true sorrow for the tough day or experience our child is walking through, while at the same time holding firm to the consequence. (Honey, I know how you feel, one time when I didn’t have any coffee I felt like that, too.)
5. Give yourself a time-out.
Sometimes the best thing we can do when dealing with a tantrum or a child exerting a strong-will is to take a break. Sometimes that means one parent letting another parent handle a situation. Sometimes that means going into your bedroom and collecting your thoughts before proceeding. For me, at times it has meant soaking in the tub and waiting slightly to deal with an issue. (Daddy will be right there, mommy needs a coffee break).
6. Wait for the storm to calm.
It is best to not try and give any explanation or ask for any explanation when a child is raging. Numerous authors have written about the brain’s inability to respond appropriately when angry. Just Google amygdala and brain hijacking! Deal with the issue at hand when both you and your child are calm and emotions have had time to settle. (I may only drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day, but whenever those are missed my brain is hijacked!)
I do not say this lightly and do not mean just the daily prayers we pray for our children. Though praying for our kids daily is a great idea! What I mean is in the moment our strong-willed child is at the peak of his or her strong-willed moment or temper-tantrum moment to pray right then outloud! Often, in the moment, I forget to call upon the Lord when there is great power at the mention of the name of Jesus. Do not forget that there is a spiritual battle going on in addition to the battle that you can see. (How do I start my day? Prayer…followed soon thereafter with a cup of coffee).
Update: One other tip I have learned that is helpful is EXERCISE. Sometimes kids need to work their bodies physically in order to cooperate better. Whenever I experience difficulty, I have my daughter take some time to do something physical. Sometimes it is jumping rope for 3 minutes. Other times it is doing chores such as washing dishes or taking out the trash. The distraction of something else to do is also beneficial.
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