Working moms are masters at the art of juggling. They juggle domestic duties with professional responsibilities, along with familial relationships. Throw in a child with a temper tantrum and the art of juggling takes on a whole new challenge. Imagine returning home after a busy day of meeting deadlines and attending meetings, only to find your 3-year old in the middle of a temper tantrum. Your mind says run but your heart sympathizes with your child. What is a busy mom supposed to do?
At Little Charms, all our working moms can identify with this scenario. Some of them even wish for a magic genie who can make tantrums disappear, but obviously this is not possible in the real world. Instead, they recommend the following three strategies to help prevent temper tantrums in the first place:
What is a temper tantrum?
A temper tantrum is a physical or emotional outburst by children between the ages of 1 to 4. Children during this age haven’t developed the coping skills required to deal with their feelings and emotions. As a result, when they are faced with something they do not understand or if they are having difficulty being understood, they lose their temper. The outburst is a manifestation of their built up frustration.
Strategy 1: Attachment Parenting
According to Dr. William Sears, Paediatrician, children who are carried around a lot as babies and whose cues are responded to with sensitivity, tend to have fewer tantrums. These children are less likely to demonstrate angry burst or have impulsive behaviours. This is because attached parents are able to read their children very accurately. They know how to create situations that prevent temper tantrums. On the other hand, children whose parents practice less attachment experience more difficulties in recovering from tantrums.
How can a busy, working mom practice attachment parenting? Some of our moms at Little Charms actually schedule time out each day to do an organized activity with their children. It could be anything the child enjoys doing such as baking cookies, drawing, playing dress up etc. The idea is to spend quality time with your child and praise their efforts. Allow your child to make mistakes but do not be in a hurry to correct them. This builds trust and more importantly, attachment.
Strategy 2: Minimize Triggers
Temper tantrums can occur at any time. They mostly happen when your attention is diverted i.e. you’re on the phone, at the doctor’s office or in the supermarket. The circumstances that make temper tantrums inconvenient for parents are what triggers tantrums in children. Wise mothers avoid situations that lead to emotional overload in their child.
One of our moms at Little Charms recommends keeping a tantrum diary. On a page, make three columns with “A”, “B” and “C”. They stand for Antecedent, Behaviour and Consequence. Each time a tantrum occurs, fill in these columns. Note down what was the behaviour, what did your child do? What was the consequence or result of that behaviour? For example, if your child was crying for more candy, did you give him more? In this case, the “B” is the crying for candy and the “C” is for giving the candy. For column A, note down what triggered the crying. Was you’re your child sitting around, feeling bored? Was the child resisting the idea of going to the supermarket? Our Little Charms mom notes that this chart helps her identify times and situations when the tantrums occur, therefore she tries to avoid triggers that set them off. She also notes that this chart helps her adjust her parenting style.
Sometimes, even when we have our best foot forward, tantrums will happen. The trick is to first let your child try and sort out issues for themselves. If they fail after the first few attempts, then intervene. It is important for a child to experience frustration because this is how he will learn to solve problems.
Strategy #3: Identify your Anger Buttons
Many of our Little Charms moms find this strategy the most important yet the most difficult. They state that being overtired is one of their anger buttons and unfortunately this is when the tantrum usually occurs! One Little charms mom actually made the effort one day on her lunch break to sit down and identify behaviours which made her angry. She devised a chart with two columns: “My Child Behaves Best When” and “My Child Behaves worst when”. After she filled in both of these charts, the mom gained an awareness of her own limits. For example, she stated that her child behaves worst when she’s been too busy for a long time. As a working mom, this is going to happen frequently. To avoid this, you can enlist your partner’s help to take the child to the park or engage in play for a period of time. This will give you some time to relax and recover after returning from work, helping you enjoy your time with your child. Identifying what triggers or upsets you will help you become a more sensitive parent.
Preventing temper tantrums in children is a work in progress. It requires an awareness of our anger points, minimizing triggers that set off tantrums in the child and the practice of attachment parenting.