Tantrums: The Escalation Trap
If you are a parent or caregiver and you are concerned because your child is engaging in frequent tantrums, then this article is for you. Parents actually may be reinforcing tantrum behaviors without even knowing it. If for instance, you are at a store and your child ask you for a toy and you say “No,” after you say no, your child keeps asking for the toy, followed by loud screaming and or crying. What do you do? Some parents continue to say no and then just when the child screams louder, the parent gives in. It can be difficult to follow through with a firm no when you’re feeling tired, want to end the tantrum in that moment and/or are feeling embarrassed by those around you who might be watching. When you give in to a child when they escalate by screaming and/or crying, after you have already told them no, this reinforces the tantrum behavior. The child learns that if they escalate loud enough the parent will give in so they learn that next time they want something and the parent says no, all they need to do is scream louder. If a child is engaging in a tantrum because they want something after you already told them no, it is best to ignore the behavior and in some cases, redirect the child to another activity.
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