Our 8-year-old is throw­ing tantrums

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

Q: Our 8-year-old daugh­ter has started throw­ing big tantrums. Once she gets worked up, she can’t calm her­self down. She’s started get­ting worked up over lit­tle things. Once-a-week tantrums are now daily tantrums. Th­ese tantrums up­set the whole house­hold.

We’re not sure how best to han­dle things when she throws a wob­bly. We’ve told her the tantrums are un­ac­cept­able but she doesn’t seem to take any no­tice. I know all kids throw tantrums but what is the best way to han­dle th­ese tantrums?

Do we take priv­i­leges away from her? Send her to room for 15 mins to calm down?

A: The tantrum stage is usu­ally over by 8, be­cause chil­dren have learned how to man­age their frus­tra­tions, anger and dis­ap­point­ments by then. It’s in­ter­est­ing that your daugh­ter has started throw­ing tantrums now.

I agree that it’s to­tally un­ac­cept­able and I’ve made a few sug­ges­tions that you might use to stop them, but you’ll need to pick your strat­egy – and stick with it. Switch­ing from one scheme to an­other will let her see your in­de­ci­sion.

When your daugh­ter’s calm, try to dis­cuss her in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour and what you in­tend do­ing about it.

I know some­one who filmed their son’s ter­ri­fy­ing and em­bar­rass­ing melt­down and showed him later when he’d re­cov­ered. It was an ef­fec­tive idea be­cause he was mor­ti­fied. This may not work for your daugh­ter but col­lect­ing the ev­i­dence has never been eas­ier!

Your daugh­ter is ef­fec­tively hold­ing the house­hold to ran­som and th­ese tantrums will have long-term reper­cus­sions on other sib­lings.

Sug­gest some tools to con­trol her emo­tions and let her se­lect the one that best ap­peals, that is count­ing, breath­ing, a mantra, a spe­cial place to sit, or time away. Re­ward her ev­ery time she shows con­trol and uses her se­lected tool.

The trou­ble with this sort of sys­tem is it de­pends on you, as the par­ents, to keep it go­ing. It’s no good hav­ing a cou­ple of good days and then let­ting it all slide back to the bad old ways. Any sort of habit takes a while to change so you have to be more per­sis­tent than your 8-year-old and that’s ac­tu­ally harder than it sounds.

As a caveat, I’d like to say that since this has only re­cently be­gun, I think you should check that noth­ing trau­matic has trig­gered her new be­hav­iour. Hope­fully, it’s all just a case of wit­ness­ing th­ese tantrums per­formed suc­cess­fully by an­other 8-year-old, or else she’s found some re­lief in the out­let of scream­ing and cry­ing on the floor. (I can see how ap­peal­ing that could be oc­ca­sion­ally…..)

Mary-anne Scott has raised four boys and writ­ten three nov­els for young adults, all of which have been short­listed for the NZ Book awards for chil­dren and young adults. As one of seven sis­ters, there aren’t many par­ent­ing prob­lems she hasn’t talked over. Please note that Mary-anne is not a trained coun­sel­lor. Her ad­vice is not in­tended to re­place that of a pro­fes­sional coun­sel­lor or psy­chol­o­gist.

You’ll need to pick a strat­egy to deal with your daugh­ter’s tantrums – and stick with it.

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