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Tantrums & Giving In

tantrumQ: I know I give in too easily, but I want to avoid tantrums and meltdowns. Any advice?
A: Make a plan in advance to avert the stress of meltdowns.

Q: I know I give in too easily, but it usually happens when I’m under pressure—fixing dinner, trying to get the kids out the door in the morning, etc. I don’t have time for a meltdown, or I’m too exhausted to deal with it, so I let the kids get their way. How can I avoid giving in too often?

A: One of the best methods to avoid a meltdown is to minimize life’s daily pressures and stressors by planning ahead. Dealing with a temper tantrum when you are already in the moment is very difficult, especially when it happens in a public place or while running behind schedule. Planning ahead is not only about coming up with strategies to use when a meltdown occurs, but also about coming up with effective methods to avoid tantrums altogether.  For example, if fixing dinner is challenging because your kids want your attention, why not include them in the process—they can help set the table, mix the salad, wash the cooking tools, etc. This not only keeps them busy, but also promotes family time that teaches skills that can come in handy later in life.

If part of the morning battle is caused by asking your child to choose clothes, plan ahead and have him pick an outfit the night before. If your children “get lost” in the morning, provide visual reminders. This can consist of a checklist of tasks (e.g., get dressed, wash face, brush teeth, comb hair, eat breakfast, etc.) or pictures of objects representing each step (e.g., clothes, bathroom sink, toothbrush, hairbrush, plate with food, etc.).

Meltdowns often occur when a family goes out to dinner. Young children can get antsy and become restless while the family waits to be seated and waits for food to be served. Make waiting time easier for kids by bringing toys, art supplies and portable board games to the restaurant—these distractions will buy you time and help you avoid stressful situations. An even better strategy is to call ahead of time and make a reservation. If you can find the menu online, some places will even allow you to order ahead, further minimizing your family’s wait time.

Finally, it’s always important to “pick your battles”—for your own sake and for your children’s. It’s not the end of the world if your son leaves the house with two different colored socks.

Send questions about your child to info@chconline.org. We’ll choose one new question to answer each month.


To schedule an evaluation or to get advice about your child’s challenges, call or email a CHC Care Coordinator at 650.688.3625 or careteam@chconline.org

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