Temper tantrums are loud, scary, and frustrating.
Sometimes it's a small person (also known as “the grandchild”) having a big tantrum, and sometimes it's a big person (also known as “the grandma” -- that is, me) having a small tantrum. No matter who it is, it's no fun.
Surprisingly, the causes are often the same: a feeling of frustration or lack of control, being overtired, boredom.
Whatever the cause, the important thing is to bring the tantrum to a quick, satisfactory end. You need to remember whatever instructions your grandchild's parents have given you about how to deal with the child. But, having a few tricks up your own sleeve can't hurt.
Here are some tricks to stash up your sleeve:
If the tantrum's cause is your grandchild's frustration, make your voice and demeanor quiet, get her attention, and ask if she can tell you what the problem is. Listen carefully to her answer, and help her deal with whatever frustrates her in a constructive way. If she isn't able to articulate what's bothering her, “lead” her with simple questions she can answer with yes or no.
Occasionally, especially in a younger child, the out-of-control feeling she experiences is scary. Not only do you need to defuse the tantrum, you also need to comfort and reassure her that everything will be OK, she is safe, and she can learn to manage her frustration.
If you are dealing with an angry tantrum, use physical activity to draw off the anger's energy. Have him go outside and run a few laps around the house, or do jumping jacks in the basement. Then, deal with whatever made him angry in the first place.
If the tantrum is the result of an overtired child, have her take a nap, rock her quietly in your lap, or choose a quiet, restful activity for her to do. Again, your calm quiet will help soothe her.
If boredom causes a tantrum, devise something interesting and difficult for him to do. Building a house of cards is usually both quiet and absorbing. A good conversation can be an antidote to boredom and will often stop a tantrum in its tracks.
Don't forget the power of a good sense of humor, wisely deployed. If it's possible to help your grandchild laugh at her situation, you may defuse a tantrum – just be very careful not to make her think you are laughing at her.
Occasionally, it's a grandma tantrum – a rare, but serious problem. That's when a calming cup of tea, a solitary walk around the house, or even a nap can help a great deal. And don't forget the power of chocolate - even a handful of M and Ms can help a grandma's tantrum!
Tantrums are no fun for anyone – tame them!