It is important to tune in to and manage these feelings because it is how you react in these moments that make the difference in your child’s development. Your response impacts his ability to learn good coping skills and guides his future behavior. Managing strong, negative emotions is surely much easier said than done. But it’s worth the effort, because the payoff is huge, for you and your child. Here are some helpful guiding principles and strategies:
- Tune in to your feelings. Feelings are not right or wrong. It is what you do with your feelings that can be helpful or hurtful. What’s most important is that you tune in to and own your feelings so that you can make a conscious decision—versus a knee-jerk reaction—about how best to respond.
- Look at behavior in the context of your child’s development and temperament. Having appropriate expectations is critical because the meaning you assign to your child’s behavior impacts how you manage your own emotions and reactions to the behavior at hand.
- Remember: You can’t make your child do anything— eat, sleep, pee, poop, talk, or stop having a tantrum. What you do have control over is how you respond to your children’s actions, as this is what guides and shapes their behavior. If throwing a tantrum results in extra TV time, a later bedtime, or simply getting more of your attention, your toddler is putting 2 and 2 together, making an important assessment: “Tantrums work! Excellent strategy! Put that one in the win column.”