Tantrum – A Cheat Sheet

tantrumWe have all been there. For seemingly no reason at all, your child decides to throw an epic tantrum.  What do you do anytime your child falls on the floor, cries. whines, or otherwise refuses to follow directions? Do you know whether how you react actually does more to escalate the situation? This cheat sheet from Touchpoint Autism Services gives us ten tips for how to handle these types of situations.

  1. Remember what you originally asked him to do and make sure he does it! Follow through on all directions.
  2. Move him to a safe area, if needed, or remove items/children that may be nearby.
  3. Give clear, concise directions in a neutral and firm tone of voice (i.e. “Timmy, give me the block” instead of “Timmy, you need to give me the block so that we can eat dinner and take a bath”.
  4. Use the countdown to transition count backwards from 5 to 1 before he has to give you an item, get up off the floor, etc.
  5. Don’t repeat yourself-  direct him once then wait for a response.
  6. Remove all eye contact and otherwise IGNORE any inappropriate behavior! Use phrases like “keep your hands to yourself” to remind him of what to do. Talk to him later about how it makes you sad when he hits, but NOT when he is in meltdown mode.
  7. Use gestures (pointing) to help prompt him to do the right thing.
  8. Remind him of what he needs to do and what he gets from it (“Timmy, when you give me the block, you can have a snack/watch TV/play, etc.”)
  9. Praise ANY appropriate behavior or any following of directions.
  10. If all else fails, physically help him follow directions. Give him a 5-second countdown and a choice.

a) “Timmy, in 5 seconds you need to give me the block, or block, or I will help you give me the block.”

b) 5-4-3-2-1

c) “Timmy, give me the block.” If he does, give praise. If he doesn’t…

d) Take his hand and physically guide him to giving you the block, then take it from him.

e) Praise- “Nice job giving me the block! Now let’s…”

I know what you are thinking, this is not going to work with my child when he’s dealing with a temper tantrum.

I thought the same thing. The next time your child has a tantrum, try these strategies. Most likely it will not work on your very first try, or even your tenth, but keep trying. Just like any behavior we teach our children, repetition and follow through on our part is the key to making it work.