Temper Tantrums: Should you ignore or distract your child?

A large chunk of parenting will be spent helping kids navigate through new emotions that come with development. One common way they deal with overwhelming feelings is by throwing tantrums.

We caught up with the globally recognized parenting and character expert Dr. Michele Borba at Jollibee’s launch of their #SweetSayaMoments campaign last December 1 to learn more about the importance of quality time and character development. Dr. Borba also shed light on the right approach to temper tantrums.

“Temper tantrums are a universal problem,” Dr. Michele Borba, who is the author of Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World, tells theAsianparent Philippines. “We know is that you have split seconds before a child goes into meltdown mode.”

Dr. Borba, who is also a mom of three, suggests pre-empting this by distracting your child.

“You can distract immediately, like ‘oh, look it that bird sweetheart isn’t that adorable?’ or for younger kids, pediatricians have found the temper tantrums are there because they don’t have the words to express it,” she explains.

According to Dr. Borba, it will help to ask them questions like, “Are you mad?”, this allows them to be free to express how they feel.

“Once the exorcism starts, you back off,” she says jokingly.

“The longer you give attention to a temper tantrum, the longer it lasts,” warns Dr. Borba. “They don’t stop the first time, but they will stop later on.”

“The longer you give attention to a temper tantrum, the longer it lasts.”

photo: Shutterstock

The 4 Common Causes of Tantrums

Dr. Borba went on to enumerate four common causes of tantrums parents should be prepared for.

Boredom

“Keep your kid occupied,” cautions Dr. Borba. Instead of leaving them with a gadget, why not try engaging your kid in conversation? Dr. Borba suggests looking them in the eye and reassuring them that they have your attention. Often, lashing out is a bid to be noticed.

Hunger

“Keep them with something to eat when you take them out,” advises Dr. Borba. The last thing you need is a temper tantrum in the middle of a busy mall, where the lines at restaurants are super long. So make sure to keep a snack handy.

Lack of sleep

“Don’t take them out in public if they haven’t slept or had a nap all day,” she warns. It will be difficult to calm them down or find a nice, quiet place where they can catch up on some sleep once the tantrums commence.

Discomfort

Having relaxing, one-on-one time frequently is important to put kids at ease, emotionally. When it comes to physical comfort, tantrums are usually the result of pain they’re feeling from illness or injury, which of course, requires attention.

But for the most part, Dr. Borba suggests to both distract and ignore your child’s tantrum to allow them to learn how to self-regulate.

“You’ll find that the longer you ignore it, the sooner it will stop,” concludes Dr. Borba. Once you give it attention, it actually increases the risk of it recurring in the future because kids are conditioned into thinking crying or pouting is the best way to get their way.

“Stick to that,” stresses Dr. Borba. “The most important part of parenting is to be consistent and you’ll get faster results.”

READ: 10Reasons why having tantrums can be good for your child

*Republished with permission from The Asianparent Philippines