We all know how it feels when we can't seem to move ahead with something challenging — like getting to the next level in a game or finishing a difficult math problem.
Kids are trying to master their world, too, and they get frustrated or impatient just like we do. But, because kids don't have the skills to understand or control their emotions, their feelings may come out as a temper tantrum.
How should you react if the kid you're babysitting has a tantrum?
Tantrums can't always be avoided, but these tactics might help:
In time, you will come to know the kids you are looking after. You'll realize when a tantrum is a ploy to get more attention, when it's a reaction to frustration or tiredness, and when it's simple anger at a sibling or friend — and you'll be able to react accordingly.
If you're looking after kids with special needs, tantrums might have other meanings. For example, kids with autism can have meltdowns when faced with new situations or too much stimulation. You may not be able to reason with a special needs child in the same way you can with other kids. So ask parents for advice.
The top thing to remember about tantrums is that teaching by example is your most powerful tool. So stay cool and in charge.
Just as kids learn from us, we can learn from them. When an angry child tests your own temper, it can feel really good to resolve the situation in a cool, calm, and collected way. Next time you feel your own temper rising (and it happens to all of us at times), you can think back and remember how you helped the kids calm theirs!
Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: June 2013
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