It’s something that all parents of small children fear: the dreaded temper tantrum! When a child starts to cry and shout for what appears to be no good reason, it can quickly lead to a very nerve-racking and embarrassing situation. For parents who are already exhausted it’s like a nightmare come true.
The question is: what should parents do in these situations? Getting angry, ignoring the behavior or punishing the child all seem like normal responses, but they’re actually not the best way to handle it. Anger, indifference and punishment will only make your child want to rebel against you. So what is the solution?
Psychologists have proved that during these times of crisis, the best thing to do is ask one simple question that will cause the child to reflect on his or her behavior and calm down.
When your child is throwing a temper tantrum, kneel down and ask, “Is this a big, medium or small problem?” Children — even very young ones — can differentiate between problem categories. A big problem has no solution at the moment, whereas a small problem can be resolved instantly. Your child’s response should be taken seriously. The next step is to ask what solution your child can find to solve the problem. Don’t put any pressure on at this point — it may take some time, but if there is a solution your child will probably think of it.
And apparently the method is very effective, at least according to some testimonials: “This mom says she immediately saw the benefits of this approach. One day her daughter started crying hysterically because her favorite pants were not in her closet and were still hanging on the line to dry.”
“When she started crying, the mother asked, ‘Alice, is it a big, medium or small problem?’ When her daughter admitted that she had made all the fuss for nothing, her mother asked what the best solution was. Without hesitating her daughter said that she would put on a different pair of pants and wear her favorite ones the next day.”
Children often can’t find the right words to express their frustrations and their ideas for solutions to problems. They need time to look at a situation from a calm perspective and see that it’s really not that complicated. Giving them this time and being patient is much more effective than screaming and upsetting them even more. It may take a bit of self-control that’s hard to find during an exhausting day taking care of those little tykes, but in the end it’s worth it. Always remember: cooler heads always prevail!