We have all been there. You are in a grocery store, and you hear a blood curdling scream. A tantrum is about to begin. Or you hear a colleague speaking about a student whose behavior is especially challenging. You may think “thank goodness it is not my kid” or, “I’m so happy my students are well behaved.” But what happens when it is your child or your student?
From the moment misbehavior begins, it is important to have a set of easy-to-use tools in our “parenting or teaching grab bag” that are ready to implement any time you need them. Marcy Willard, Ph.D., NCSP, APIT founder of Clear Child Psychology, offers just that in her brand-new app, Cadey.
So, what can you do when a tantrum starts brewing or when it looks like misbehavior is going to win out over good? Stay calm! We have you covered with these five tips!
First, it is important to keep the child, yourself, and others around you safe. This means removing things that can be thrown, broken, or hit. Dr. Marcy Willard recommends using “your body or a soft pillow to block access to anything dangerous or things they can throw.” In the classroom, a calm down space or a walk with another adult can be a great option. While this may look a little different depending on your situation, it is still important to keep safety in mind.
Now is not the time for a discussion. The Cadey app advises to “stay calm” & “drop your words.” While it can be difficult to not lose our cool, argue back or desperately try to reason with our child or student, the middle of a tantrum is not the time. Emotions are high, making it difficult to reason or have a kid follow directions. Dr. Willard’s Cadey app recommends praising behaviors that exemplify calming down such as deep breathing.
Give your child some space. We all need space at times. Allow your child time to decompress. Talk to them about healthy coping skills such as listening to music, deep breathing techniques, writing, or whatever they feel works best.
Do not underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. In times where your child or students are behaving appropriately, praise them. Set up a token system or sticker chart where they get rewarded for good behavior.
Connect with your child or student. Talk with them about their feelings, and why they feel the way they do. Validate these feelings and do not get defensive if the negative feelings are about you. During times of calm, talk to your child or student about what happened and work on skills to use instead of throwing a tantrum, suggests Dr. Willard.
Listen to your child. No matter how old your child or student is, their emotions are real and deserve to be acknowledged. Do not get upset or defensive if your child or student expresses their negative emotions are a result of something you did. Instead, “remain calm and help them be heard.” Work together to establish a system that works for both of you.
While we cannot always expect perfect behavior from kids, we can rely on these important skills and have the confidence to know what to do before, during and after a tantrum. Dr. Marcy Willard’s new Cadey app provides actionable steps and advice for parents and educators. The app offers personalized solutions to end the “confusion, helplessness and feeling of being overwhelmed.”