Dealing with Power Tantrums

Power Tantrums are all about control and managing them can be a parent’s worst nightmare. Power Tantrums differ from other forms of tantrum in children older than the age of two: after then children are able to stop tantruming when they chose. Toddlers, however, are developmentally unable to manage  frustration and frustration quickly becomes fury when we don’t comply with their demands. They don’t understand the consequences of their choices and need us to be firm when their decisions are inappropriate. They are biologically driven to understand the rules of their society (they want to fit-in and feel connected to those around them), and learning what is acceptable to their parents is a core part of this process. If they don’t learn to follow their parents (quiet, pleasant, firm) direction at this stage, another, later stage will be much harder for everyone. (Frustration Tantrums are not Power Tantrums, they happen when we don’t understand pre-verbal toddlers.Prevent Frustration Tantrums – It’s Easy)

To be sure you are dealing with a Power Tantrum always check: if they can speak and they have no tears – it’s a Power Tantrum (older than age two); if it’s not about separation from Mum; pain; hunger; thirst; over-stimulation; or feeling tired then it’s probably a Power Tantrum (younger than two).

We can prevent many Power Tantrums by making most basic choices in our children’s lives, but leaving all choices around play or spontaneous choices to them. (Prevent Power Tantrums – It’s Easy)  Some Power Tantrums are a cry for help: children who do not feel properly connected to their mothers will often have them. (Attention Seeking is a Big Fat Lie) Some Power Tantrums happen due to poor wiring of the brain, and I will blog more about this when I do my next update on the Hare and electronics. (For the start of that story: No Electronics Here: Why we cut Electronics from our Children’s lives)

So, you are certain your child is having a Power Tantrum, what to you actually do?

Firstly, never, ever, ever back-down. If you have said, no or taken something from them, then stick to your decision. Do not concede. If you think you have made a bad decision – make a different one the next time they make the same request. This time: do not dither or change your mind. Children don’t cope with wishy-washy parenting – they become angry and sad. If you do concede, their tantrums are going to get worse or they are going to become more demanding. Promise. To prevent yourself making a snap decision that you’ll regret, use the phrase, “Let me think about it.”

With a toddler do the following: pick them up and physically move them away from the item they want to touch or have. When you put them down, face them away from it. If possible distract them with another item. Turn and walk away. Not too far, incase they try again. Appear to concentrate on a different task, become extremely busy. If they try again, repeat. And again, if needs be. If it’s a case of wanting to go with someone who is leaving, barricade (pleasantly) them from the exits and repeat the above process. The more you do this for a well attached child with parents who make basic decisions for them, the lessening in the frequency, duration and intensity of the tantrums. If they’re not reducing in these three ways, something else is wrong. If they’re often having possession issues read: Sharing: For very small Children

For a child who is older than two, you need to check if it really is a Power Tantrum: words, but no tears. They will use their noise and body to try to control you into doing what they want. These are the ones to ignore. Walk away if you can. If you have to, put yourself into a safe place away from them, along with any siblings or animals. Do not engage in conversation while they are having the tantrum. If you are out in public, turn your back and become fascinated with the scenery. Speaking to them, during a Power Tantrum, will fuel the fire. Don’t reason. Don’t negotiate. Don’t explain. You have made a stand. End of story.

Words of caution: 1. Prevent Power Tantrums around food issues, by only having in the house what you want them to eat. Children also need to self-regulate the amount they eat if they are to have a healthy attitude to food. Children unused to self-regulating will get it wrong for a week or two, if you introduce this concept.

2. Tantrums around separation, even at night are usually about emotional distress not power – there is a completely different biological reaction going on. No tears+lots of words = Power Tantrum

3. Power Tantrums can become Distress Tantrums very fast, in that instance change your approach and use the technique of Boring Cuddles. (Quick Way to Stop Children Fussing)

Good luck.

The link above is interesting and another point to consider.

(Should you find this article useful, Koha is accepted, $1 is fine. The button is under my blog-roll. :))

About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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6 Responses to Dealing with Power Tantrums

  1. You mean you don’t cave and hand the child a lollipop so to reward the tantrum, make nice and befriend him/her?! But that’s the modern American way!

    • kloppenmum says:

      But I’m not American!
      And caving in doesn’t work with their biology – imagine that: being built for rules…

      • That’s true, you’re not, yet I’ve read/heard that permissive parenting cuts across the Western world. America leads the way, I’ll grant that and reckon that it’s not nearly as pervasively toxic in NZ as here.

        • kloppenmum says:

          It doesn’t seem to be, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming. I would say parents here tend to be more on the strict side – many try to discipline normal emotions etc, but there are ones who are permissive too. The permissive ones tend to be frowned upon: because their kids are so obviously brattish. What I can’t work out is why more parents in the west can’t get the balance between being highly nurturing and having boundaries – kids need both, yet people seem to operate from one extreme or the other.

  2. P.S. On another topic, do you know how to set your settings to bypass comments moderation/approval for return visitors?

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