When Challenged, Consider These Ideas

As a parent, it’s hard to keep yourself contained and composed when your child is in the middle of a tantrum. Experts say there are strategies on how to deal with toddler tantrums. 

Every parent is different and so is with their children. There are traits that are difficult for some parents while others find it easy to handle. This is how interesting parenting is.

More often, parents label their child as “easy” or “difficult.”

On an expert’s point of view, this is somewhat subjective, in terms of traits that are accepted as easy versus those that are quite a handful to manage. Sometimes a hyper active boy is considered easier to parent than a hyper active girl.

However, labeling your children as “easy” or “difficult” may also be objective. A child who is very reactive comes as difficult to parent. It is difficult for a child who is anxious and in distress to listen than those children who are easy-going.

In this case, what should you do to overcome your child’s difficult temperament?

The following is an excerpt that I believe offers great advice if you have ongoing struggles due to temperament or behavior patterns.

Strategies for Parenting Children with Difficult Temperaments

By  Karen Stephens

1. Provide fundamentals; sleep, food  etc. so child can cope best.

2. Focus on strengths. Voice your appreciation when child is flexible, positive and cooperative.

3. Avoid labeling and name calling. It chips away at self esteem

4. Encourage self awareness and coping strategies.

5. Use reflection to help child recognize options. i.e. “It looks like that sweater feels scratchy. Can you find something in your closet that feels better?”

6. Be patient, empathize and interpret temperament traits. “It’s hard for you to sit still for a long time. Hold on, we’ll be at the park soon. Can you see how many stop signs you can count?”

7. Maintain a predictable schedule. Warn children of changes in routine so they are not caught off guard.  “Today we are taking care to Tony because his parents are out of town.”

8. Make transitions easier by letting children know that it will soon be time to leave. For example at the library; “There is time for one more book then we’ll be going.” Then stick to your decision.

9. If your child is overwhelmed by too many choices, limit the number.

10. Keep you house calm and predictable. Loud TV, music and family arguments stress any child but especially those with a sensitive temperament.

11. Make sure that kids get hands on active play daily; it helps them use energy constructively. Avoid over-scheduling children but consider a lesson that is a good outlet for energy like swimming, gymnastics and dancing.

12. Provide more structure if a child regularly becomes overwhelmed and loses control. Maintain regularity in your daily routine. On errands provide structure by giving your child a job to do.

13. Create safe, cozy and calming spaces in your home where your child can gain control when upset or over-stimulated. Remind him or her that relaxing is a coping strategy. Use a book, stuffed toy or game to calm down.

14. Rehearse changes so they can be anticipated.

15. Respect children’s preferences in terms of food, taste scent and texture. Role model flexibility.

16. Coach children toward self control. Help them master language to express feelings. Remind them to find non-aggressive ways to achieve goals.

17. Help children regain control during or after tantrums. “ You are really yelling loud. When you can speak more quietly I will listen.” “You are so frustrated that you are throwing a fit! Breathe slower and it will help you calm yourself.”

18. Model and encourage positive social skills such as trading, negotiating, sharing, inviting others to play, asking before entering other’s play, offering to help others, asking for help and sharing play ideas.

19. Choose battles wisely. Avoid power struggles. When disciplining use clear direction and enforce age appropriate limits with reasonable related and respectful consequences. Avoid over-reactng, raising your voice or issuing false threats and ultimatums. Deal with behavior problems calmly and matter of factly. This will help our child gain control and develop trust in your support and guidance.

20. If family life becomes unbearable, a child psychologist or family therapist can help.

Another Resource: Working With your Child’s Inborn Traits

by Diane Clark Johnson

About The Author

Lois Olson

Founder of The Montessori Children's House Inc. Laramie, Wyoming Montessori Primary Certification 1973
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting facilitator certification
Thirty eight years of experience working with children ages 3-6
Twenty five years facilitating parenting groups
Ten years facilitating teacher training
B.A In Psychology

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