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Dealing with temper tantrums

EXCLUSIVE - The Freda Briggs Parenting Series

Freda Briggs - Emeritus Professor in Child Development
for | 06 April 2012

Stock Photo

Parent patience is seriously tested...when toddlers develop temper tantrums!

These involve spectacular explosions of anger, violence, high pitched screaming, stiffening or flailing limbs, falling down or holding their breath until they turn purple. They may vomit, break things or fight you. Tantrums most commonly occur when children find themselves in situations that they canít handle, are stressed, over-stimulated, insecure or canít get what they want. An American survey found that 87% of 18mth-2 year olds threw tantrums 8 times a week; from 2-3 years, 92% exhibited tantrums 6 times a week reducing to 59% by the age of five. Boysí tantrums last longest.

If your children are under two, be prepared.

If tantrums have already started, note whether they happen at the same time/place or in the same circumstances then try to avoid those situations . Remain calm, ignore the behaviour, avoid eye contact and move away. When a tantrum is in full swing, it is too late for reasoning. Never let your child sense that tantrums result in rewards. If they occur because the child doesnít want to do something Ė remove him. If it is because he canít get what he wants, use distraction. Be consistent because if you give in today and say no tomorrow, tantrums increase in frequency. Reward desirable behaviour and praise him when he manages frustration well. Help older children to practice coping skills for situations where a tantrum could occur. For example, ďIn 5 minutes I am going to ask you to turn off the computer. This is a chance for you to show how calm and grown-up you can beĒ. Show what 5 minutes is on the clock. If you are about to say no to a demand, ask the tantrum-prone child to take deep breaths and stay calm before responding.

Tantrums are especially draining and embarrassing when they happen in public. The authorís son put on spectacular displays in the supermarket, holding his breath until he collapsed, attracting everyoneís attention. Train yourself to ignore critical onlookers who sympathise with the child and criticise you. They have either never had children or had them so long ago that they have forgotten what itís like. And take comfort from the fact that tantrums donít last forever!

More information on healthy child sexual development can be found in "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids" by the author, available from JoJo Publishers, Melbourne, all good bookshops or the internet.

Freda Briggs
Emeritus Professor in Child Development

Smart Parenting for Safer Kids

Dr Freda Briggs AO is Emeritus Professor in Child Development at the University of South Australia and author of "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids". "Smart Parenting for Safer Kids", reviewed by here, gives tips on keeping children safe in a wide range of situations from cyber space and sexual abuse to bullying. The book is available in all good bookstores and can be ordered by phone on 03 9681 7275 or online at JoJo Publishing
You can read more of Freda Briggs's Profile here.

This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of The views of the author are not necessarily representative of those of This article contains only general information, correct at the date of publication. For advice regarding your own personal circumstances, always seek individual advice from a qualified professional. Read the full Disclaimer here

What does it mean to be a single mum?Of course, the


are the most important thing in a single mum's life. Kids are the focus and always have been. But along with the children, there are other matters that can confuse a single mum's life.


plays a big part of a single mother's life, mainly because this is where a large percentage of single mums get their finances from. Centrelink are the source from where the

single mother pension

, or as it is otherwise known, the single parent payment comes from. The single mother pension is a subsistence amount, but just the same, it is money to live on, and so it is important, no matter if it is called single parent payment, single mother pension or whatever Centrelink welfare classes it at the time

Often, single mums come out of a


or defacto relationship only to find that their troubles have just begun, and find that their first step leads them towards Family Law - it's time to engage a lawyer.
There are more than just Centrelink finance problems to worry about, as mentioned before, but also

child custody

issues. Child custody is something that hits right at the heart of

single mums

. If a single mother's ex husband or ex partner has been a domestic violence perpetrator, the mum may be greatly worried about child custody. They worry that their kids won't be safe with their spouse, who has already proven to be abusive because they caused

domestic violence

, which resulted in a divorce or separation.

Even so,

Family Court

will often still order a form of child custody named

Shared Parenting

. Shared Parenting is a form of child custody division of time or parental responsibility between the parents. Mother's often look for a good divorce lawyer to try to avoid share parenting with an abusive ex-spouse after divorce, however in many cases Shared Parenting is still the outcome after the divorce, no matter how good the divorce lawyers have been. They will often settle for visitation at a contact centre or access centre where fathers or mothers are supervised during child custody access.

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