If you’re a parent, you know the feeling of dread when your child is having a temper tantrum. Whether you’re in a store or restaurant, or you’re at home in the middle of a long, hectic day, there’s not much worse than realizing your little one has lost all control. When a child loses control, keeping your control becomes more important than ever.


Stop Your Child from Hitting, Kicking or Biting 

Unison Health’s team of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants, dedicated to understanding and treating the specific behavioral health needs of children, have a few tips designed to help calm your child down without escalating the situation. If your child is having behavioral issues, here are some things that you can do to help calm your child down:
1. Get down to your child’s level. Bringing yourself to eye level with your child creates a sense of closeness, and it demonstrates to your child that you are actively listening. Standing over the child will likely evoke a fear response and     could lead to even more crying and screaming. No one wants that!
2. Make direct eye contact with your child. Direct eye contact also lets the child see that you are listening and fully engaged. If the child can see that you are really trying to understand their problem, there’s a better chance they will calm down long enough to tell you.
3. Use a calm voice. When a child is in the midst of a temper tantrum, his or her mind is in chaos. Yelling will only add to the turmoil, while speaking in a soothing manner can go a long way toward assuring the child that everything is going to be OK.
4. If the child is hitting or biting, redirect them to use their words. Toddlers often resort to aggression when they are experiencing frustration or anger. They may either lack the vocabulary to express themselves, or they may be past the point of exercising control. As you employ the first three tips, make a point of helping them talk through their problem to the best of their ability. In the process, you can help them discover a better way to communicate — and at the same time reinforce the idea that hitting, kicking or biting is not acceptable.
5. Praise your child for appropriate behavior. On calmer days, when they get through an entire shopping trip without having a meltdown, be sure and let your children know how proud you are of them. The good feeling they get from your kind words will stick with them throughout the day, and over time they will remember that positive experience and look for ways to make it happen again.
6. Identify things that calm your child down. Most kids have something — a stuffed animal, toy or blanket — they carry with them for security. Encouraging children to use these items in times of crisis can help them discover a new way to defuse a difficult situation in their mind.
7. Be consistent and simple with directions. Sometimes children lose their cool when they’re feeling overwhelmed. If a task seems too complicated, anxiety may set in. Keep your instructions clear, perhaps even breaking them down into a series of smaller tasks.
No matter what your approach to child-rearing is, there’s a good chance your child will lose his or her cool at some point. It’s just what kids do. And while it can be embarrassing, getting angry when a child has a tantrum isn’t a long-term solution. Keeping these tips in mind might seem like a lot to be aware of during a very trying time, but the results — a safer, happier family — will be worth it.


Unison Health: Experts in Children’s Behavioral Issues

If your child appears to be having behavioral health concerns that are outside typical toddler issues, Unison Health can help prevent them from interfering with their future success. Unison Health offers Early Childhood Mental Health Therapy and Intervention for children ages 0-5 living in Lucas, Sandusky and Seneca counties. More information about this program is available on our Integrated Child and Family Services page or by calling 419.693.0631.