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The Big 3: Tantrums, Fussing & Whining

If you ask parents to list the most frustrating discipline problems, you would find that these three appear on every parent's list! All children master their own version of these behaviors, some are more talented in one area over another, and they appear and disappear at various ages and stages - but every parent has to deal with them!
Why kids do it

Tantrums, fussing and whining are usually caused by children's inability to express or control their emotions. When a child is stressed ay he's more likely to lose control. Tiredness, hunger, boredom, anger, and frustration ignite The Big Three.When your child begins a meltdown, try to determine what underlying issue is causing the problem. Is it past naptime? Due for a snack? The game beyond her ability level? Solve the base problem and you'll help your child gain control of these emotions.

Handling tantrums, fussing and whining

No matter how diligent you are in recognizing trigger causes, your child will still have meltdown moments. Or even meltdown days. Children are human beings, after all. And children need the guidance of an adult to help them - they can't do it on their own. These tips can help you handle those inevitable bumps in the road. 

Get eye-to-eye

When you make a request from a distance, yelling from room-to-room, your child might ignore you, if he hears you at all. Noncompliance creates stress, which leads to fussing and tantrums - from both of you. Instead, go to your child, get down to his level, look him in the eye and make a clear, concise request. This will catch his full attention. 

Tell him what you DO want

Avoid focusing on misbehavior and what you don't want. Children hear far too many Nos, Don'ts and Stops. Instead, explain exactly what you'd like your child to do or say in a positive, specific way. So instead of saying, "Stop fighting over your toys!" a better choice is, "I'd like you to find a fair way to share."

Offer the freedom of choices

You can offer choices between two or three things that you will accept. Instead of saying, "Put your coat on right now," which may provoke a tantrum, offer a choice, "What would you rather do, wear your coat or bring along a sweatshirt?" Children who are involved in the decision making are often happily cooperating!

Validate her feelings

Help your child understand her emotions. Give words to her feelings, "You're sad. You want to stay and play." This doesn't mean you must give in, but letting her know that you understand her problem may be enough to help her calm down. Follow the validation with a brief explanation and instructions, "The bus leaves soon, so take one last turn down the slide before we leave."

Invoke his imagination

If a child is upset about something, it can help to vocalize his fantasy of what he wishes would happen: "I bet you wish we could buy every single toy in this store." This can become a fun game and will end the fussing.

Use a preventive approach

Review desired behavior prior to leaving the house, or when entering a public building, or before you begin a playdate. This might prevent the whining or tantrum from even beginning. Put your comments in the positive and be specific.

When it's over, it's over

After an episode of misbehavior is finished you can let it go and move on. Don't feel you must teach a lesson by withholding your approval, love or company. Children bounce right back, and it is okay for you to bounce right back, too.

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