6 Helpful Ways To Manage Your Child’s Mini Tantrums

Does this sound familiar? My client wrote to me with the following question:

“My 4-year old daughter seems to fly off the handle and get angry for no reason. For example, this morning, she woke up cheerfully, got dressed, brushed her teeth and washed up without a problem. At breakfast, out of nowhere, she starts yelling at her brother to stop looking at her. My son told her she should just close her eyes and not look at him. This made her even madder and she sat under the table crying and whining for about 5 minutes. She then came out from under the table and ate her breakfast like nothing happened. This happens all the time. She is sweet, cuddly, and warm and then boom she blows up without warning and then she is calm again. What is going on and how can I stop her from behaving in this way?”

Does this ever happen to you?

Here are 6 Ways to Help You Manage Your Child’s Mini-Tantrums:

1. Look for Patterns in Behavior:

Some kids are temperamentally sensitive and we don’t know what sets them off. I would still try to find a pattern for her behavior. Does she behave in this way more when waking up, when she is leaving for school, when she is rushed, during the evening, or when you are tending to the other children? Finding the source can help you manage or eliminate the cause of her mini-tantrums. You will be less likely to get caught off guard and better equipped to deal with them.

For example if you know breakfast is a difficult time for her, you can have her eat before all her siblings or move the seats around so that they are sitting far away from each other.

Learning to work around her most difficult times will help relieve some of the tension you are both experiencing.

2. You Can Only Control Your Behavior:

It is helpful to remember that it is normal for all children to whine, cry and tantrum and get mad at their siblings. We cannot fully stop this type of behavior. Getting along with others within the family is a lifelong pursuit. Everyone, adults included, whine, cry, sulk, and behave badly. It is just a part of life. Managing our family’s bad moods, including our own, is just part of the job description under the heading of Mom. Don’t fight it. How you react lays the groundwork for how your child will manage her moods and conflicts later on in life. In other words, focus more on how you respond to her so that you are modeling appropriate behavior instead of trying to change her behavior. Instead of saying to yourself, “I gotta get her to stop acting in this way, she is always misbehaving.” Say, “She needs help managing her rough feelings, if I can find a way to manage this annoying behavior in a kind way, she will learn to be kind to others and learn how to control herself better in the future.” A wise person once said to me, “You can’t change people’s behaviors but you do have control over how you react to them.” That is the secret to great parenting.

3. Find Her A Safe Place:

If she is driving you crazy you are well within your rights to say:

” If you need to whine, cry or complain please find another place to do it”
“Do you want me to take you to your room to finish crying or do you want to go yourself?”
“Which private place do you want to go to finish your whining, your bedroom or the bathroom?”

4. Empathy, Empathy, Empathy:

When children hear empathy it soothes them and helps them manage their difficult feelings.
You can say: “Something is making you so sad and whiny, I wish I knew what it was. It doesn’t seem like you are able to tell me right now.”

“Sometimes just having someone look at you can bother you. It can make you want to sit under the table until you pull yourself together. It can make you upset even if the person looking at you might not have meant to hurt your feelings or bother you.”

5. Help Her Take Responsibility For Her Behavior:

When you are calm and she is calm, talk to her. Encourage her to think ways that she could improve her behavior. Here are some suggestions:

“You know this morning you were very upset about Jonny looking at you and you complained and whined about it. Can you think of another way you could have reacted? Is there something that I can do next time to help you deal with a situation like that?”

“When you feel all yucky inside is there a way you can get all your bad feelings out without whining and complaining? Sometimes all that noise you make when you are sad or angry can hurt my ears and make me whiny!”

She might not answer or be able to come up with any solutions. The point of the problem solving at such a young age is to plant the seeds in her head that she is responsible for her own behavior. You are sending her the message, “You can control your behavior and as your parent I am willing to help you.”

6. Parenting With A Cup Half Full Mentality:

Another trick to parent effectively is to focus on any positive behavior that your child exhibits. In this particular case, I would venture to say that the fact that she can calm herself down after about 5 minutes is a big plus. It sounds as if she does not hold a grudge or engage in negative behavior for a long period of time. You can praise her for this.

“You know what sometimes you get annoyed and mad. You may yell and complain but you know ways to calm yourself down. After you calm yourself down you are happy again. That is a very good way to be.”

You can also notice and praise her for the times her siblings bother her and she does not get upset.

“Jonny wanted the toy you were playing with, you gave it to him and found another toy to play with. That’s called being kind.”

Mini-tantrums can be just as draining as the big ones. The tactics mentioned above should help you gain some relief and help your child move through her difficult moods more easily.

Leave a Reply