A bad temper in children is perhaps one of the most annoying things for non-parents and frustrating things for parents. Yelling, screaming, acting bad, kicking feet, crying, stomping, and being downright disrespectful are all part of a bad temper in children, and they are enough to make anyone want to leave the room with their hands in the air.
Unfortunately, many adults who are not parents try to deal with a bad temper in children in a way that helps it go away as quickly as possible. This means ignoring bad behavior, letting kids get away with what they want, and giving them treats for acting inappropriately. This is unhelpful to the child and to the parent.
If you are around a child who is exhibiting a bad temper, then there are a few things that you need to know. These things will help you deal with stranger’s kids in a way that is acceptable to the parents and helpful for the kid, and when you are looking after the kid, and you make the conscious decision to take on the responsibility that comes with that, the following tips will help you deal with them in a reasonable manner that the parents will appreciate.
1. We Are All Responsible For Demonstrating Proper Behavior
A lot of kids choose to behave in a way that they are exposed to. Parents are definitely guilty of exposing their children to bad behavior, but so are other adults that they come across, both in real life and on TV. If kids learn that blowing up is normal, then they will blow up. They won’t feel like it’s a big deal because everyone else does it, so as far as they are concerned it’s normal.
Therefore, people need to act like a rational human being when kids are around. Don’t exhibit the bad temper that you don’t want them to have. Demonstrate how to deal with issues in a calm and mature way and give kids the example they need to understand what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior in real life.
2. Don’t Reward Bad Behavior
A lot of kids exhibit bad behavior to get what they want, and because the screaming and tantrum becomes too much for everyone to take, they end up getting their way. However, all this does is teach them that a bad temper gets them what they want. For parent’s it is important to stick with not rewarding your children when they throw a tantrum; however, it is also important for everyone else.
One grandmother I know always rewards her grandchild for a bad temper. When the young kid starts to cry and sulk and hurt her sibling, the grandmother will cuddle her and give her food and give her what she wants. This undoes all the work the mom is trying to do towards making bad behavior unacceptable.
If you are not the parent, then don’t give in to what they want and reward the child for their bad temper. In addition, if you are just a bystander while the mother is around, don’t tell the mother what she should do. Lastly, don’t give the child something they want so that you can look like the good person in their eyes. Always follow the lead of the mother.
3. A Bad Temper In Children Is Not Cute
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen an adult laughing at a kid throwing a temper tantrum. Strangers in the supermarket, family members, and friends all things it’s funny when kids get into an emotional state, but it’s really not.
It is not funny when a kid throws a tantrum or starts kicking stuff. It’s not funny when a kid hits their parent. It’s not something to laugh at. It’s important to put yourself in the parent’s shoes who have to live with the children 24 hours a day. Their kid’s bad temper is not amusing to them, and they don’t laugh.
When you laugh at a kid throwing a temper tantrum, you encourage them to keep going. Kids are experiencing a high amount of distress during a temper tantrum, and laughing at them just adds to that stress. Moreover, telling them how cute they are will make them feel like their bad temper is something that other people admire in them. Why wouldn’t they keep throwing a tantrum at that point?
4. Kids Are Not Incapable Of Understanding Adult Language
If you talk to a kid like a baby when they are throwing a tantrum, you will encourage them to act like a baby. While kids are obviously not adults, you can still talk to them as an adult would talk to another person.
For instance, if a kid is screaming at you and you can’t understand them, don’t say, “Oh, is my little man okay?” Instead, say something like, “I can’t understand what you are saying. Talk to me properly.” By using adult language, you are being reasonable with the kid, and you are more likely to detract from their temper tantrum than add to it. It’s important to be direct and get them to use their words rather than their temper to get what they want.
Dr. Phil recommends using short phrases, repetition, a passionate tone, and exaggerated facial expressions. Short phrases helps the kid hear everything you want to say, repetition makes sure they understand you are serious about what you are saying, a passionate tone makes it clear that you mean business and are not joking around, and exaggerated expressions help them understand what type of message you are trying to get across and how serious you are about it.
5. Kids Need Boundaries
Just because kids have not developed adult ways of doing things does not mean that they shouldn’t understand where the boundaries are in their life. Boundaries help parents reduce their anger, tension, embarrassment, resentment, and responsibility.
Kids are hardwired to test their boundaries, so it is very important for parents and non-parents to make it clear that boundaries are there and the kids have to remember them.
For instance, kids need to know that other people’s lives don’t revolve solely around them. They need to understand that they can only demand so much from others. They need to know that privacy is important. They need to understand that they are the child and they can’t tell others what to do.
If you don’t know what boundaries the parents have set, and you want to correct a kid on their behavior while you are looking after the kid, then you need to find out what those boundaries are, write them down, keep that list on hand, and make sure the kid doesn’t cross the boundaries that they know they are not supposed to cross.
6. There May Be Something More Going On Than Meets The Eye
This is very important for all non-parents to understand. A lot of adults are quick to judge a kid having a bad temper and label him or her as a brat. But, there are a lot of things that may be going on that they don’t know about causing the kids to have a bad temper.
– There may be abuse in the family.
– There may be a mental issue go on.
– The kid may be in pain from an accident and struggling to deal with it.
– There may be bullying issues going on.
– The kid may have suffered a traumatic experience, such as death, and the bad behavior is their coping skill.
Obviously, there are a lot of kids who are displaying a bad temper simply because they are testing their parents and other people. But, it’s important to always keep in mind that there may be something else going on, and your judgment will not help the situation at all.
Therefore, don’t judge the kids as being brats and don’t judge the parent as being a poor parent. Take the time to have compassion for the kid and parent and let the parent deal with the situation without your dirty looks or advice. Empathy will go a long way for helping everyone feel better, including you.
7. Do Not Get Down To Their Level
I know that I talked about demonstrating good behavior, but it’s also important to remember not to get caught up in a bad temper yourself and have a childish match with kids who are throwing a fit. I watch my mother-in-law do this all the time with her grandchild. I have actually seen her respond to my niece’s remark “I hate you!” with the exact same words back. What a horrible thing to do to a child who doesn’t have the capability to act like an adult.
If you feel like you are getting angry, remove yourself from the situation. Don’t give the kid dirty looks, say mean things, or act like a brat yourself. Doing that will add fuel to their fire, and you will find that everything gets worse, not better. Moreover, you will be teaching them that this is the way to relate to you because you are obviously a child too who doesn’t have any adult boundaries that they need to pay attention to. Screaming, crying, and hitting will become a part of your relationship with them if you get down to their level.
8. Don’t Be Intimated By A Bad Temper
A bad temper is not something to run from – it’s something to correct. If you are scared of a child who is displaying bad behavior, then they will feel in control of you and make it their go-to behavior around you. If you don’t want to correct bad behavior, then a lack of respect will be lost by the child because you are not willing to lay down the rules and help them figure out what they need to do for you and them to have a much happier time together.
You need to take action on bad behavior with discipline that the parent has set out. This may be a time out. It may be removing privileges. It may be sending the kid to their room. It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be the kid’s best friend in order to be liked by them. You do have to be an authority figure that lays down their parent’s rules, though.
9. Don’t Be Scared To Give Them Something You Want To Give Them
If a kid is displaying a bad temper because they want to go outside and you said no, then you can offer them some other choices to help them let go of the anger and get back to business. Find out from the parent what normally works to get a child to display more proper behavior. Toys, movies, and games are all things that can help shift the feeling of lack to a feeling of happiness.
This is not rewarding the bad behavior. This is simply redirecting their attention. If they were to go outside despite the fact that you said no, then that is when a punishment comes into play. But, simply redirecting their attention is just helping them calm down and understand that they are not going to get what they want.
10. Don’t Encourage Violence
Kids can get pretty violent with each other and with their parents, and it’s important to have a strict united rule that violence is not the way to solve anything. If applicable, there should be immediate punishment for violence appropriate to the kid’s age. Moreover, if you hear about a kid pinching, biting, or kicking another kid, don’t laugh. Let them know that it is not acceptable to act like that and you are not alright with it.
By making it clear that violence is not OK, you will help kids understand that it is one of the boundaries they can’t cross. They can’t put their hands on someone else in anger. They can’t hit or bite someone else when they are upset. It is not a way of getting anything they want, and they need to find better ways to deal with their anger.
This should start when they are little. As they grow up, and use violence to get their way or vent their frustrations, there is the very real possibility that they could hurt someone or an animal in a way that will get them in serious trouble. So, take this point very seriously if you care about the kids and other people in their life at all.