This is copied & pasted from an email I received.
Here is a collection of money-back guaranteed tips to cure any child (older than 2.5) of tantrums in less than a week.
- Say "no" and stick to it. If you say "No", NEVER change your mind based on a whine, pout, demand, tear or tantrum. If you change your mind and give in, "Alright, fine. Stop crying and you can have _____," the battle of wills begins. It only takes once. Their little minds will never forget. If you have the patience to endure 20 minutes of pleading, only to give in, you will only teach your child the pay-off for tantrum perseverance.
- Never make a deal to end a tantrum. "If you promise that next time you won't cry, you can do it this time;" "If you stop whining, when we get home I'll let you have that candy bar;" "We'll go to the park later if you stop pouting." Sound familiar? These are all incentives for future tantrums. The parent thinks they did well by not giving in to the demand and by sternly asking them to stop crying, whining or whatever. However, the kid is learning, "okay, I didn't get my way, but I did get a smokin' deal!" I watched a 7-year-old throw his bat at the coach when he struck out; followed by screaming and crying. His Mom ran onto the field and wrapped her arms around him. She escorted him back toward where we were sitting. I heard her say to him, "calm down and go back to the dug out and we'll go get ice cream when the game is over." What!!!! I would have grabbed that little brat by the ... Oh, don't get me started. The equation in this kid's mind or any kid that you make a deal with is simple: Behave poorly = get good stuff.
- It is attention, even negative attention they seek. When your child pouts, cries, whines or demands do you respond instantly? Even if your response is negative or corrective, it's that instant attention they seek. If you're not giving in, not offering alternative rewards and your child is still a fit thrower, try a technique called, "active ignoring". Stay calm and respond slower. Then try, "Zack, when you can use a normal voice, we'll talk." Continue, occasionally, repeating this phrase until the kid gets the concept. The first time takes the longest. Stick to this rule for one week and by the second day, you'll be amazed at the difference. Children crave their parent's attention. The busier you are, the more they feel the need to "act-out" to get your attention. Don't forget to give attention and praise when your child is behaving appropriately.
- Be consistent for one full week, regardless of any inconvenience to you. This may be tough, but I promise if you stick to your guns for one full week the rewards are amazing. This means that you can't give in just because you're going to be late for work and don't have the time to deal with the situation. You can't fold just because you're in the checkout line at Target and want to avoid the embarrassment. In fact, the more dramatic and deterring your response the more likely you're going to make a lasting impression on your "shorty." Don't send your kid to time-out or to their room if it seems to have no effect. Hit 'em where it hurts. Do they love gymnastics class or live for their Playstation? Ah-ha!
- Predict, prevent and explain the consequences of the next bout of bad behavior. It's your kid. You know the situations that are likely to generate tears, a tantrum. If every time you go out to the grocery store your child cries if he's not permitted to get what he wants, advise your child, ahead of time, what you expect and what he can expect if he misbehaves. "Allen, we are only buying the items that Mommy picks out today. You are not to ask for a toy. I know you can do this and I'm going to be so proud of you for acting like a big kid. But, if you cry, pout or even ask for a toy, new rule, you will not be allowed to play video games for two days or (insert a negative consequence here). I know you can be a big kid!" Announce what your child can expect and follow through. Reward his behavior not with "things", but with your pride. Children want acceptance and adoration from their parents more than anything else.
- Only make promises you can and will follow through on 100%. I've overheard parents threatening a 5-year-old with, "If you do that again, we will get on this plane and leave you behind." No you won't. That's ridiculous, and I might add, the kid didn't look too worried. How about, "Do that again and you'll never have another friend over." Seriously? Are you really going to be the meanest Dad on the planet? If you make attention-grabbing threats without plans of follow-through your children know it. Eventually your threats will generate no effect! If you really wouldn't follow through 100%, DO NOT USE IT AS A THREAT. Make only sincere promises. Remember that the punishment should match the crime and age of the offender.
- Be swift and serious in dealing with behavioral challenges. Children want and need to know exactly what to expect. About a year ago I met my girlfriends at Starbucks with our daughters. Mine forgot to say thank you when getting her cinnamon role. I explained, she must use her manners or she would not be eating the roll. Her argument was that she had said "thank you" yesterday and didn't need to say it today. She started crying and demanding the roll. I told her that she needed to calm down and say "thank you" or we would be leaving. I gave her about a minute to compose herself. She used that time to really ramp it up. I calmly and swiftly scooped her up, apologized to my friends for leaving after having just sat down and went straight home. Cierra was stunned. I told her I loved her. I also told her that Mommy would always follow through and my darling daughter would get what she wanted only when she used good manners and good behavior. I explained that crying would never get her what she wanted, but good manners would. The event was inconvenient and some would have found it embarrassing, but I only had to do it once. Kids get the point. Be swift and serious, but stay calm. Explain what happened and what they can expect in the future and follow through even when it inconveniences you.
- Don't allow friends or family to brow beat you into giving in to bad behavior. Some children learn to ask for things in the company of others, knowing you won't want to risk a temper tantrum. This child may ask in the presence of Aunt Lisa, "Can Aunt Lisa take me to the movies tonight?" Your response is, "No. Not tonight. You have a lot of homework to do." Aunt Lisa then says, "I'd love to take him. Couldn't he do his homework in the morning?" Too bad Aunt Lisa! Stick to your word. If you now say, "Okay. I guess that's fine..." you've just taught your child to make out-of-the-question requests in the presence of others.
- Offer Alternatives: Rather than saying, "Go clean your room." Of course, unless you gave birth to a robot, this request is likely to provoke an ugly response. Offer a choice. "McKenzie, in about 20 minutes I'm going to ask you to get started on your room. Would you rather put all your toys away or straighten your shoes and make the bed? Your choice."
- It's never too late to start, but start early: Tantrums, biting, hitting, yelling and testing usually start around 18 months and are strongest until about 2 ½. Even the most consistent parent will wonder what they are doing wrong and if they've given birth to a mini-monster. Expect lots of "testing" during this age, but never under estimate the brilliance of your little angel. Often we assume our little sweet potato is too young to understand right from wrong and the pending consequence. Wrong. Children as young as one, understand how to get what they want. Speak in terms they comprehend and begin now with your consistency and stated expectations, but be age appropriate. 2 year olds need to cry to express their emotions and that's okay, but crying to get a piece of chocolate should not be rewarded. Avoid making excuses, recognize things like hunger, missing a nap, too much excitement, fear and other external factors will increase the likelihood of behavioral challenges. Despite the reasoning, your resolve must stay true and age appropriate.
- Get Both Parents on the same page: Whatever you do, make sure both parents agree to use the same plan. This is not always a possibility when there's a divorce. However, that's no excuse to let go. Resolve to have your child be well mannered and tantrum free while with you. When you do live in the same house, your expectations must be clearly discussed and agreed upon, not in the heat of the moment and NEVER in front of the children. When Bret occasionally steps on my toes, or I step on his, we flash each other a quick "oh-no-you-didn't" glance, but never undermine the other's authority in front of the kids. If your children are important to both of you sit down and discuss a plan. Site books on the subject together If something doesn't work, try another approach, but resolve together to eliminate whining, begging, crying, hitting, screaming, pouting and meltdowns that test your patience and stress the marriage.
It really only takes a week. Your kid is no different than the next, relatively speaking. Rewarding good behavior with praise, recognition and affection will create a child eager to gain attention by doing good things rather than acting out. Praise them immediately and recall it again the next day. "Boy, I was so proud of you at dinner last night. I even called Santa and told him about it." If you are bewildered when people say that little Junior is a perfect angel for them, so well behaved at school or that they've never seen "that side" of him, it's time to make some changes in your approach. May the force be with us!