How to Deal (and Not to Deal) with a Tantrum
If someone is drowning, that’s not a time you can teach them to swim.
Alan Kazdin is the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology at Yale University, and the director of the Yale Parenting Center and Child Conduct Clinic. His work focuses primarily on child and adolescent disorders, behavior therapy, and clinical methodology, with over 600 articles and over 40 books and chapters published in these areas. He has served as Editor of many prominent psychology journals including the American Psychological Association’s Encyclopedia of Psychology. He was also the 2008 President of the American Psychological Association.
His latest book is "The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child."
Let's say you’re in a restaurant and you’re child is having a tantrum and everyone is looking at you thinking what have you done to this child to have them whining. Are you torturing them? What can you do?
At the moment of crisis, when you’re in a restaurant or some public place, and there’s crying, there’s not a lot you can do constructively and the analog would be if someone is drowning, that’s not a time you can teach them to swim. You have to wait until they’re not crying and at other times and you can do a lot to make it so the crying doesn’t occur.
But in the restaurant, you have to be careful to not make things worse. You can make things worse by screaming, shouting, or threatening the child. You can make things worse by grabbing the child. You kind of have to leave the restaurant or ignore it to minimize its duration.
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