My six-year-old daughter still throws tantrums. I thought she would outgrow them after four years, but they continue. The scene of the tantrums is usually outdoors, in a supermarket or someone’s house. It’s becoming very difficult to manage her outbursts. Please help.
— Priya Tucker, Pune
Tantrums come in all shapes and sizes. Older children can have tantrums too because they haven’t yet learned more appropriate ways to express and/or manage their emotions.
For toddlers and older children, tantrums can be triggered by several factors including:
• Your child’s temperament can influence how quickly and strongly she reacts to frustrating events. Children who get easily upset are more likely to have tantrums.
• Stress, hunger, tiredness and overstimulation make it harder for children to express and manage their feelings and behaviour.
• Strong emotions such as worry, fear, shame and anger can be overwhelming for children.
• Boredom could perhaps lead to tantrums in the supermarket, so involve her in choosing items for purchase.
• Give her a five-minute warning before leaving a friend’s house. This will give her time to get used to the idea and not feel upset.
Make sure your instructions are clear, concise and confident. Your tone and body language should be assertive as she may be picking up your vibes of nervousness and embarrassment in stressful situations.
My parents-in-law are always buying my children (aged five and three) junk food and candies. They are sure to soon develop dental cavities. How do I advise my parents-in-law without offending them?
— Anonymous, Chennai
This is a common problem as grandparents love to spoil grandchildren. You can ‘Talk & Teach’ your children about healthy eating and dangers of excessive sugar consumption. Explain that they are treats and reserved for special occasions, such as when they visit their grandparents.
You don’t want your children to feel that you are judging their grandparents. So keep in mind the bigger, long term picture and relax. The bonding/relationship/good memories that are being built are way more important than how many cookies your children consume sometimes when they are with their grandparents
My son feels three of his teachers are always picking on him. I am not sure if he is misbehaving in class, or they are prejudiced against him. I have tried speaking to the teachers but I don’t have a clue as to what is happening. How do I help him?
— Rishita Varma, Bangalore.
You don’t say how old your son is but I’d make an appointment with the head of school. Before the meeting, I suggest you write down some of the things your son is saying that he is getting in trouble for in bullet points. You may detect a pattern. Collaborate together with his teachers to understand what the school expects of your son and how you can both work together to help him achieve these objectives.
Good communication between home and school is the key, and striking when the iron is cold, not when you are angry, is the way to help your son understand what is expected of him. Praise, reward and encouragement go a long way to motivate children without damaging their self-esteem.
(Sue Atkins is a UK-based internationally recognised parenting expert, broadcaster, speaker and author of Parenting Made Easy — How to Raise Happy Children (2012))