Patience is key for managing temper tantrums

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's probably one of the most challenging parts of parenting - managing those inevitable temper tantrums. It may be called the "terrible twos," but many parents say they notice it more around age three - A strong-willed toddler throws a fit when he or she doesn't get what they want.

We've all been there. The kicking, the screaming, and the whining can go on and on. The hardest part can be ignoring those outbursts. But that's exactly what child psychiatrist Brad Berger with Memorial Hospital recommends.

"There's actually a great book that a lot of our therapists use, and I use, as well. It's called, One, Two Three Magic. And the main principles of that book are, number one - stop talking so much during a tantrum," he explained.

"Because parents have a tendency to reason with their kid and talk them out of a tantrum, and that never works. Pretty much when you're talking to a kid it's like you're speaking alien. They don't understand a word you're saying."

Dr. Berger said that's only half the battle. Parents also have to stop showing so much emotion.

"Parents get very emotional. They get very embarrassed, especially if it's out in public. And you know they start having the same sorts of responses their kids are having. And in some ways I think kids unconsciously want their parents to get upset because they're getting upset.They're angry because they're not getting their way."

Dr. Berger also said tantrums can last up to an hour or more. Don't give in, as hard as that may be. He said you won't cause any emotional damage by letting your toddler cry (or scream) it out of their systems. The most important thing is consistency. Parents should repeatedly block those tantrums out.

If you're interested in learning more about managing a "Spirited Child," Biloxi's Excel by 5 is hosting a free parenting class March 13th from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m., at the Biloxi Resource Center on St. John Avenue. Dinner will be provided. Parents must register by Thursday, February 27th. You can call Susan Hunt at (228) 297-6808. The class is limited to 25 participants, but there will be a second class on April 10th.

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