By Lisa Kosan
You can teach your child strategies for coping with anger that can defuse today’s temper tantrums and manage stress throughout his or her life. Ignore the tantrums while your child learns these new skills (see below). Walk away, vacuum the carpet, load the dishwasher. Tantrums won’t escalate if you don’t react to them.
1. Practice blowing bubbles with your child every day. This behavior is incompatible with getting nervous or angry. It teaches your child to breathe slowly, a coping method that can defuse anger as soon as it starts. Identify the first signs of your child’s anger, such as a sigh or grimace. Refer to blowing imaginary bubbles whenever your child starts
to get mad. Be patient.
2. Identify rewards. Discuss with your child some rewards he can earn for practicing blowing bubbles every day and when he gets frustrated or angry.
3. Share your successful coping methods. Point out when you deal effectively with your own stress. Ask your child to help you blow your imaginary bubbles when you are frustrated so she learns that you have strategies to help you manage your temper.
4. Remain calm. Encourage your child to practice blowing bubbles when he starts to get angry, then stay out of the situation completely. The sooner you prompt your child, the easier it will be for him to try it. If you wait until he really loses his temper, the exercise probably will not help. Address your child quietly, in a matter-of-fact manner.
5. Don’t get drawn into your child’s situation. Avoid eye-to-eye confrontation when your child is angry. Don’t change your disciplinary strategies because you’re now angry. Don’t get drawn into negotiations.
Part 1 – 'Time In" Before 'Time Out'
Part 5 - Help Children Blow Away Anger
Parenting That Works: Building Skills That Last a Lifetime, by Edward R. Christophersen and Susan L. Mortweet, American Psychological Association, 2002.
Lisa Kosan, a frequent contributor to United Parenting Publications, is an award-winning writer and the mother of two boys.