All parents have experienced temper tantrums in their children. We’ve all heard of the “terrible twos”. Occasional tantrums in children up to and including 8 year olds are relatively common, although never welcomed.
As your child matures from the toddling baby into a child, his tantrums should decrease and soon all but disappear. The child should learn that tantrum behavior is not tolerated and he has to control his disappointment without having a tantrum.
What should one do if one’s child is still having temper tantrums at age eight or even beyond? This is certainly not acceptable behavior for a child in this age bracket. First and foremost, the parents should look at themselves to see if their own behavior provokes and encourages this type of reaction in their child.
Obviously, the child has either not developed coping with disappointment, or has learned negative behavior. Tantrums produce the desired result! When things don’t go their way, they just “lose it”. Usually, it is easier to let the child have his way than to put up with the obnoxious behavior. This is learned negative behavior.
If you are a parent who has been “rewarding” the child for his bad behavior, now is the time to immediately stop! Yes, the tantrum or temper fit may be embarrassing for you and everyone around, but your uncomfortable situation cannot take precedence over your behavior, by rewarding the child in order to immediately end the tantrum. This has apparently been long instilled in the child if he is still behaving this way at age 7 or 8.
When your child is in a cooperative and calm frame of mind, have a parent-child talk with him. Tell him his behavior and tantrums or “temper fits” will not be tolerated any more. Explain to him that he can’t always have things his way. Of course, do this in a manner of which an 8 year old can understand. Most children will, while in this cooperative mood, express understanding of what you are telling them and accept the punishment (banned to his room, no T.V., no friends over, etc.) Now to practice what you preach! This is sometimes the hardest part for the parent.
The next time the temper tantrum displays itself, firmly state the obvious. No, you cannot stay out later. No, you cannot have this candy/toy/etc. No, your friend cannot spend the night. Yes, you must do as I say. After restating the answer the child does not want, and reiterating the punishment already discussed with the child, ignore the child. Allow his anger to explode and come out; the crying to continue. He will literally wear himself out and not see the results he wants. Once he has calmed down (and he will), punish him as already discussed with the child.
Okay, this all sounds easy enough! But there are so many situations where it would be so much easier to give in, you may say, when the child’s wants are not so serious as to give in to them instead of putting up with bad behavior. STOP! Even if he is displaying this behavior in a room of adults and a very inappropriate environment for such an interruption, do not give in. You must put up with his embarrassing behavior. You may usher him away from others and isolate him while he continues to have his temper fit, but continue to ignore his wishes.
The tantruming child is in serious need to learn his boundaries. Your helping him learn to accept these boundaries is imperative for his adjustment into a happy child who meshes with his peers and adults alike.
Keeping a firm position is the key. If the argument starts to become a full blown tantrum, reiterate your expectations of him and the repercussions of the punishment. Let the tantrum occur – stay close, but don’t interrupt or stop him and don’t argue, yell, or speak to him. He may stomp off and let him do just that. After he has finally calmed down, and he will, do not reward him. You’ve already told him what will happen if he reacts this way. Do just this!
Eventually, he will realize that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and he is not going to get his way. The new found attitude of the parent will be greatly rewarded with a growing maturity in your child to handle disappointment without the disruptive to all behavior.
There is plenty of information to study and explore about misbehavior and temper tantrums in the 8 year old. Educate yourself so that you are comfortable with the rules you must stand firm on and know what behavior is definitely not appropriate for your child. The more you read and know on the subject, the stronger you can be in helping your child become a pleasant and well adjusted person in his own right. You may find yourself actually enjoying your child and parenting!
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