Good Beginnings 17: Counseling and Parent Education Help Mother Respond to Toddler’s Tantrums

Nicole Mathis says she was completely frustrated over her 3-year-old daughter’s constant tantrums. “She would scream and yell for two hours straight over the smallest thing,” said Mathis, a Long Beach single mother working two jobs. “I was afraid to take her out anywhere because she would embarrass me.” What’s a mother to do?

Psychologist Lexi Welanetz, from the Family Resource Counseling Center in West LA, gives parents tips on how to defuse tantrums by first acknowledging the child’s emotions, and then establishing ground rules and consequences for breaking those rules.

“Consistency is key,” said Welanetz. “Children respond better when father, mother, grandparent, babysitter, and everyone who cares for the toddler is on the same page.”

Following are tips offered by Ilda Rueda De Leon, clinical psychologist from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Prenatal to 5 Program:

5 Tips for Neutralizing Tantrums

1. Reduce parent stress.
2. Plan ahead for tantrums.
3. Be clear and consistent while balancing yes’s and no’s.
4. Manage frustration in small steps.
5. Recognize warning signs of serious behavioral/emotional problems.

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