By Armin Brott, "Mr. Dad"
Dear Mr. Dad: My two-year-old son has started having temper tantrums.
The ones that happen at home are no fun, but the ones that happen
in public places-like the supermarket-are downright embarrassing.
Is there anything I can do about this problem?
Temper tantrums are most common among two and three-year-olds, which
is probably why the phrase "terrible twos" was invented.
Experts have found that kids this age have tantrums because their
strong wills and their desire for things outstrips their ability
to express their emotions in words. Tantrum are an emotional release,
which, as you well know, are characterized by screaming, crying,
and kicking. The most impressive ones often involve some kind of
thrashing around on the floor.
speaking, the best way to deal with any tantrum-public or private-is
to ignore it and let it take its course. Giving in to your son's
temper only reinforces the behavior: effectively saying to him that
if he misbehaves, he'll get what he wants. I know it's hard, but
fight the urge to give in.
course, ignoring a tantrum isn't always possible. If it happens
in a public place, for example, try to remove your son from the
scene. If you can, take him outside to the car and let him scream
it out there. The point here is to show your son that you won't
tolerate that kid of behavior.
effective way to deal with tantrums is to head them off at the pass.
Say you're in a store and your son starts asking for candy. He's
tired and you know that a negative response might push him over
the brink. Offer him a compromise. Tell him he can't have the candy
now, but as soon as you get home you'll make a big bowl of pudding
together, or play his favorite game.
speaking of being tired, fatigue and irritability are often the
precursors to tantrums. So if it's nap time, skip that stop at the
grocery store and head straight for home. Finally, make sure your
son knows what's expected of him at all times and praise his good
behavior every chance you get. Knowing he's pleasing you will probably
make him want to do whatever it takes to keep you happy.
Brott, hailed by Time as "the superdad's superdad," has
written or co-written six critically acclaimed books on fatherhood,
including the newly released second edition of Fathering Your Toddler:
A Dad's Guide to the Second and Third Years. His articles have appeared
in The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, American Baby, Parenting,
Child, Men's Health, The Washington Post among others. Armin is
an experienced radio and TV guest, and has appeared on Today, CBS
Overnight, Fox News, and Politically Incorrect. He's the host of
"Positive Parenting," a weekly radio program in the San
Francisco Bay Area. Visit Armin at www.mrdad.com.