I’ve mentioned in the past that age 3 was my least favourite phase, primarily because of all the tantrums that I had to contend with. My local public radio station hosts a feature called Two Guys on Your Head in which two professors take a practical pop science approach to various matters of human behaviour and the brain. Recently, they talked about tantrums. You can hear the entire 7 minute discussion below.
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My 8-year-olds and I listened to this together, on my urging, and I was surprised by how much they took away from the podcast. When my daughter M began to whine about something and started to escalate, J looked at me and said, “Don’t feed her tantrum, mom. I’ll talk to her later.” For those of you without 7 minutes to spare, allow me distill it down for you.
- Tantrums are a black hole. Whatever energy you put in simply feeds the tantrum.
- Don’t reward a tantrum with attention. No matter how well-intended, it will simply extend the pain. You can’t rationalize it away.
- A tantrum is no fun without an audience. Place your child somewhere safe and alone until it abates.
- Give children time to calm down, even after the loud part of the storm has passed.
Do your toddlers throw tantrums? How do you handle them?