Your kid is in a fit…you have had enough, but some behavior guy on the internet has told you to ignore those things, so you are. Five minutes go by, 10 minutes go by and your blood pressure is making your ears hot to the touch. That’s enough! Here’s where it gets ugly. You go over to your kid (hopefully yours, or the neighbors might need to supervise you a bit more) and in a raised voice yell, “STOP CRYING! YOU HAVE BEEN CRYING FOR 15 MINUTES, THAT’S ENOUGH!!”
How many times has that kid turned around to you, calmed immediately and in a delicate tone said,
“You know what mommy? You are right. I have cried enough. I really appreciate that.”
Rarely, if ever. The reality is this usually occurs not because the tantrum has changed so much as your ability to continue ignoring has thinned. We’ve all been there and done it. BUT WAIT…
Sometimes we need to pay attention to and respond to the duration of the behavior. For example, you might be OK with your 4 year old whining it out in her room for a while, but after 30 minutes of screaming goes by, you might need to address that. BUT, make sure you do so in an unemotional and redirective manner. For example,
“Hey, it’s been 30 minutes. Lets get it together so we can do what we need to do then we can move on. Let me know when you are ready to move on and we will.”
Another strategy that seems to work is to take exaggerated breaths with them. This works not just because of the Zen moment of “taking a deep breath,” but I think more because it gives you a way to respond to the child without talking…it kinda works if you are frustrated too. If she calms…great. If not, back away and try again in 5 minutes.
Don’t try to solve the problem, PLEASE. That is not what I’m talking about.
If you can’t do this unemotionally, don’t do it. If you can, it teaches resiliency in that you are not solving the problem by attending to their junky behavior, but that you are willing to move on without getting stuck in the abyss of common childhood tantrums.