How to stop toddler tantrums

by Lauren Abbott

Having your patience pushed to its limits is very often part and parcel of being a parent.

But rather than losing your temper and dishing out the punishments when it comes to bad behaviour, turning to praise could be just as useful in encouraging the good.

Professor Matt Sanders, founder of the Triple P Positive Parenting Program says: "Appropriate praise is one of the simplest ways to encourage good behaviour and help children learn new skills.

Head tantrums off at the pass
Head tantrums off at the pass

"If you're too busy to notice your kids, except if it's to say 'don't' or 'no', children quickly learn that behaviour which upsets you is also the behaviour that gets them the most attention.”

Professor Saunders encourages parents to notice and praise the behaviour they wish to encourage and then, when a ‘no’ or ‘don’t’ is required for problematic behaviour that it is quickly followed up with a positive instruction.

He explained: “If you have to say 'No! Stop grabbing the cat's tail' follow it up with 'Pat the cat like this'.

Every parent knows this look!
Every parent knows this look!

"A good rule is to try to deliver four positive comments to every negative. This requires an active effort to create positive situations and learning interactions with your children, and to notice when they're behaving well. It's worth it, though, because this starts to create a cycle of good behaviour and praise.”

Being specific with accurate praise, ensuring you’re genuine and avoiding praise when it isn’t due alongside good observation skills to notice their efforts rather than results and ensuring that you too are a good role model are all tips Professor Saunders believes can help make this method a success.

"By following this advice, you'll help your children build their self-esteem, encourage the good behaviour you want, and discourage bad behaviour" he concluded.

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