My 4 year old child has awful tantrums. His 2 y/o brother is much calmer. How can I get my older child to stop his tantrums?
I'm sorry to hear about your great grandson's upsets. A child's temper tantrums can wear down even the hardiest caregiver; no doubt, it's especially difficult to manage when the behavior happens regularly, disrupting the peace of the household whenever he doesn't get his way. Children have tantrums when they feel overwhelmed by frustration, disappointment, sadness or anger. In a sense, your great grandson becomes caught in a "storm" of emotions, losing his anchor and finding himself adrift on a sea of feelings too big for him to manage. In addition, your great grandsons may have the same parents, but that doesn't mean they have the same temperaments. Some children are born with placid, easygoing personalities while others arrive with a fiery disposition and intense nature. Rather than trying to make him more like his brother, focus on how you can help prevent his emotional storms so he can learn how to cope with frustration when he doesn't get what he wants. 1. A child who is tired, hungry or over-stimulated is much more vulnerable to falling apart when life isn't going his way. Make sure your great grandson is well nourished and rested, particularly at difficult times of day like preparing meals or getting everyone out of the house in the morning, when there's a lot going on. 2. Give your great grandson the sense that you're on his side, and you understand his distress. Put words to what you suspect is going on for him: "It's so hard when the blocks don't stay where you want them," or "You really wanted another cookie ... " without trying to talk him out of his feelings, or caving in to his demands. It's deeply comforting to a child when a calm and loving caregiver acknowledges the enormity of his disappointment or anger, and gently helps him move toward the sadness and tears that help him feel better again. 3. Avoid explaining why he can't have what he wants while he's in the midst of being flooded with powerful feelings. A child who's having a tantrum is incapable of processing words, logic or the rational explanations that you may think will get him to calm down. Instead, stay nearby, offer your lap -- if he'll take it -- and wait out the storm with him, helping him find his tears so he can adapt to his world not working the way he would like. By accepting your great grandson's temperament rather than comparing him to his brother, providing him with the rest and nourishment that will better help him cope with disappointment, and remaining calm while he struggles, you'll help this little boy develop the coping skills and resilience that will help him adjust to life's inevitable ups and downs. Yours in parenting support, AdviceMama