Beyond "don't!" positive parenting solutions for tantrum-free days

06 Jan 2024 02:30pm

SHAH ALAM - A child's tantrum is not necessarily due to a lack of nurturing.

One thing that can make parents uncomfortable is when their little ones suddenly throw a tantrum, especially in public places like restaurants or shopping centres.

Is handing over a gadget like a smartphone the right solution?

Is continuously giving in to their demands an 'effective' technique to calm the situation?

Before delving into further questions with local experts, Sinar referred to the definition of tantrums or meltdowns among children.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a tantrum is an expression of a child's frustration or anger when their needs or wishes are not fulfilled.

Photo source: Pexel
Photo source: Pexel

Apart from the failure to attract the attention of adults, the limitations of language and the manner of expressing themselves are reasons that prompt such behavior.

The discussion continued with Senior Medical Lecturer in Psychiatry at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Dr Maruzairi Husain.

Universiti Sains Malaysia Senior Medical Lecturer and Psychiatry Dr Maruzairi Husain
Universiti Sains Malaysia Senior Medical Lecturer and Psychiatry Dr Maruzairi Husain

Dr Maruzairi mentioned that children under three years old usually throw tantrums to express discomfort.

"At that age, emotional, social, and language development is still limited.

"They also don't know how to express something accurately and appropriately," he said.

In general, there are two types of tantrums: emotional and manipulative.

Emotional tantrums typically involve small children who are not yet good at expressing feelings like hunger, sleepiness, or discomfort in an appropriate way.

The expression of these feelings is manifested through irrational behavior.

Manipulative tantrums involve older children between three and five years old and are done for a specific purpose.

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Children learn their parents' reactions when they want something and start to exhibit 'behavior' if their wishes are not met.

If this behavior is rewarded, it will be repeated at other times.

"To control a child who often throws tantrums, parents need to play a role wisely," Dr Maruzairi advised.

Parents who practice authoritative parenting methods, although strict, can better control their children.

While they may impose consequences for unwanted behavior, the support and explanation provided make it easier to persuade the child.

Contrastingly, parents with an authoritarian parenting style, who strictly adhere to rules, only expect their children to obey without compromise. This approach may lead to easier rebellion by the child, as there is no opportunity to express themselves properly.

Dr Maruzairi also pointed out that children's tantrums can occur unexpectedly at home or in public places.

To address the issue, he suggests that parents or guardians remain calm and examine the reasons for the child's behavior.

Being hungry, tired, or uncomfortable can quickly trigger a child's anger.

A parent's touch or hug can help relieve tension.

Once the child starts to calm down, parents can encourage them to manage their emotions by discussing the feelings they want to express or asking the child to explain their needs.

If the tantrum occurs in a public area, moving to a more suitable place can allow the child to express their anger before offering support and calming them down with a hug.

Scolding or snapping at children in front of others is unwise and can complicate the situation.

Photo source: Pexel
Photo source: Pexel

Meanwhile, Healthline suggests additional methods to try:

  • Set up a special routine: A schedule helps children adjust to their daily routine.
  • Be a role model: Children observe their parents' behavior and may imitate those behaviors in similar situations.
  • Give the child a choice: Allowing the child to make choices reduces the feeling of being forced.
  • Ensure enough sleep: Tiredness can lead to tantrums, so proper sleep helps children get enough rest.
  • Encourage good eating habits: Letting children choose food is normal. Prepare healthy meals to provide the best nutrients.
  • Minimise use of the word 'no': Reducing the use of the word 'no' can be practical.
  • Use a positive tone: Speak positively instead of giving instructions if you want your child to do something.

Dr Maruzairi also addressed the community's perception that children are angry due to a lack of nurturing.

"Parents should not worry about the opinions of people around them who may not understand the situation.

"Most importantly, they need to have parenting knowledge to remain rational in the face of every child's behavior," he said.