When kids melt down in the middle of a crowded store, at a holiday dinner with extended family, or at home, it can be extremely frustrating. But parents can help kids learn self-control and teach them how to respond without just acting on impulse.
Teaching self-control is one of the most important things that parents can do for their kids because these skills are some of the most important for success later in life.
Helping Kids Learn Self-Control
By learning self-control, kids can make appropriate decisions and respond to stressful situations in ways that can yield positive outcomes.
For example, if you say that you’re not serving ice cream until after dinner, your child may cry, plead, or even scream in the hopes that you will give in. But with self-control, your child can understand that a temper tantrum means you’ll take away the ice cream for good and that it’s wiser to wait patiently.
Here are a few suggestions on how to help kids learn to control their behavior:
Up to Age 2
Infants get frustrated by the large gap between the things they want to do and what they’re able to do. They often respond with temper tantrums. Try to prevent outbursts by distracting your little one with toys or other activities.
For kids reaching the 2-year-old mark, try a brief timeout in a designated area — like a kitchen chair or bottom stair — to show the consequences for outbursts and teach that it’s better to take some time alone instead of throwing a tantrum.
Ages 3 to 5
You can continue to use timeouts, but rather than setting a specific time limit, end timeouts once your child has calmed down. This helps kids improve their sense of self-control. And praise your child for not losing control in frustrating or difficult situations
This is all about a deft mental switcheroo — getting your kid engaged and interested in something else so she forgets about the meltdown . Children have pretty short attention spans — which means they’re usually easy to divert. And it always helps if you sound really, really psyched when you do it. It gets their mind off the meltdown and on to the next thing that much faster.”