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    We Need Your Advice on Temper Tantrums!
    Lainey_WebMD_Staff posted:
    Hello parents,

    Temper tantrums can be very frustrating. WebMD's Temper Tantrums article, can help parents understand why children have tantrums.

    Many children will mimic parent behavior. How we react to anger can be a significant cause to our children's tantrum. Road rage, conflict skills, and angry vents can give your child the example needed to behave in the same angry fashion. How we deal with a child's tantrum can also encourage the behavior.

    What do you suggest for dealing with tantrums?

    How do you handle anger in front of your child/children?
    Indiaguerita responded:
    Because we have a son with Autism, we were introduced to ABA therapy. In a nutshell, that means you ignore the bad behavior completely, and reward or praise the good behavior (no matter how inconsequential the good behavior seems).

    Our son has thrown five hour tantrums before. He has made himself vomit and his face as red as a lobster.

    Keeping in mind that he is four, we completely ignore his tantrums. It is extremely hard to go about your normal life with a screaming kid in your midst, but if you stick to your guns and continue the ABA, eventually there will be little to no tantrums.

    For tantrums that happen in public, you swiftly remove your child to a quiet and people-free zone, not speaking. You wait until the tantrum is over and then you go back to whatever you were doing. (Rewarding your child when the tantrum ends: "I'm so glad you're not crying anymore!")

    It seems silly...but it works. Our son was having daily tantrums for anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours. He rarely has a tantrum now.

    Roy Benaroch, MD responded:
    Tantrums are part of childhood. Kids can't communicate as clearly as they want to, and have little appreciation for delayed gratification. Combine that with little bodies that might be under-slept, a little hungry, or a little bored: ka-blooie!

    I sometimes talk about tantrums in three phases:

    Before: try to avoid circumstances that precipitate tantrums. Not all tantrums can be avoided-- but some can.

    During: as Laura said, ignore. Don't try to talk your way through a tantrum. Keep your child safe, but stay silent and let it run its course.

    After: reassure, hug, and love. With kids a little older than toddlers, you can debrief a tantrum, afterwards. Ask your child, "how could you have handled that better?" But be gentle here-- patience and understanding will help far more than strong words.

    Then, repeat the cycle!
    Lainey_WebMD_Staff responded:
    What do you suggest for teens that are having tantrums?
    Roy Benaroch, MD replied to Lainey_WebMD_Staff's response:
    The exact same approach. Avoid when you can, ignore during the tantrum, discuss afterwards. Involve the teen in the solution-- "what could we do to stop arguing like this?".

    Works well for adults and spouses, too.
    seeit2 replied to Roy Benaroch, MD's response:
    I think it is also a good idea to talk about emotions whenever you can, your own and others'. Like, in a book or TV show when a character has a tantrum, talk about whether that is a good choice and how the character could have handled it better. THis teaches them strategies to handle ager when they are not angry and can listen effectively. And point out how the child is feeling, happy, sad, mad, whatever, to get them comfortable identifying and discussing how they feel. It's an easy thing to model yourself as well.
    Roy Benaroch, MD replied to seeit2's response:
    This is a great idea-- talk about the feelings and actions of characters on TV, or even the way you see others handle these situations in public. For younger kids, you can put on puppet shows where the characters have (and work through) conflict. Children (and teens, and adults) can find this kind of "indirect" instruction less antagonizing than saying things that start with the word "you".

    But again, all of this needs to take place in between tantrums, or long after tantrums. Too many parents talk too much during tantrums-- that will not work, but will instead reinforce and extend the tantrum, and make everyone feel worse.
    Indiaguerita replied to Roy Benaroch, MD's response:
    If we talk to our son during his tantrums, it increases with a vengeance. Our only success has been ignoring it completely and then rewarding him with praise (or one of his favorite toys) immediately once the crying has stopped.

    Some parents with children who are a little more severe sometimes will use a favorite food treat. I do not do that, for several reasons. (I am an emotional and overweight eater...I don't condone rewarding with candy or junk food. It's too easy for children to become obese using the "treat" method.) I do not judge the parents that do that...whatever works for them is great...we just choose to reward with toys or praise. The better the behavior - the bigger and better the reward.

    Dr. Benaroch - we have an appointment to see my son's behavioral psychologist in April. But we are having some issues of aggression in our son. In the last month, roughly, we have seen some self-injuring behavior and aggressive behavior towards his younger sister.

    One specific example of this would be: Today Raymond was upset because his sister colored in his coloring book. In addition to the tantrum he was throwing - he began slapping himself across the face, with some force. We immediately stopped him...but it was upsetting to my husband and me.

    What are we supposed to do? Just restrain him and then move on without saying anything to him? I don't think he even knows he is doing it. I suspect he is attempting to self-calm, ableit in a self-injurious manner.

    Any advice you have would be appreciated.

    Roy Benaroch, MD replied to Indiaguerita's response:
    Laura, do I recall correctly-- is your son neurotypical? If not, your approach will be different, and it's probably beyond the scope of a board like this one for me to learn enough about your son to give you a genuinely useful answer.

    For an NT kid, you did exactly the right thing, though as discussed above talking about it later might be helpful. But you may need more intense and specific therapy to work thru self-injurious behavior in your son. Could his behvioralist work him in sooner?
    Indiaguerita replied to Roy Benaroch, MD's response:
    The son I am talking about is not neurotypical. He is on the spectrum.

    We keep calling to find out if they can take us sooner, but it's a pretty busy psychologist. She is excellent. Our appointment is near the end of April.

    Currently, we just restrain him until it is over - but I would rather avoid the self-injury altogether.

    Thank you for your response. I really appreciate your time.

    Indiaguerita replied to Indiaguerita's response:
    Indiaguerita responded:
    Lainey_WebMD_Staff replied to Indiaguerita's response:
    Hi Indiaguerita,

    Sometimes it will take a few days for our experts to get back. If you would like, you can post a separate discussion and in the subject line put, "Dr. Benaroch"
    Roy Benaroch, MD replied to Indiaguerita's response:
    Laura, I don't have much else to add. With a non-NT kid, you need a more personalized & specific approach from someone who really knows you and your son, and that's not something that's possible through a public board like this one. Best of luck-

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