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Help With Ongoing Tantrums

Question

Our 9-year old daughter has been prone to tantrums all of her life. The trigger is usually not getting her way--not getting to do what she wants, wear what she wants, etc...and these have usually been addressed with some form of loss of privilege. Recently, the frequency of the tantrums has increased dramatically. At this point, we are running out of things to take away and the issue seems to be getting worse instead of better. I think that this is some form of bid for attention based on her perception that her older sister gets more attention than she does. My wife leans toward this being something beyond her control since it continues to escalate, and thinks we need to seek professional help. When she is in the middle of a tantrum, it is easy to believe she cannot control herself because the intensity is unreal. We are both open to anything (or almost anything...not drugs) that will help our child control these emotions. Please help!

Answer

Hello, and thank you for your question. I don't think there's a gene for tantrums, and to say she is "prone" to them is to blame it on some unknowable and uncontrollable force.

Have you read any of Dr. Rosemond's books? I suggest you begin with "The New Six Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children." What you will learn is that the tantrums continue because the consequences for them are meaningless to her. It's time to lower the boom. Strip her room of all entertainment value, leaving only books, paper and writing utensils. Remove all clothes expect what she will need for a week. Remember that, beyond shelter, food, health care and clothing, everything else is a privilege. To help her change her behavior, create a chart. Tell her that she must be tantrum free for one month before you will restore her room to what it was, and before her privileges will be reinstated. Any infraction means that the month begins again.

She will be angry, she will plead and bargain and cajole (just as I'm guessing you and your wife do when trying to explain your decisions to her.) Then she'll probably be sweet and try to talk you out of it. Stay the course, unemotionally. Make this her problem to solve, and her problem if she doesn't. If you decide to seek professional help, be prepared for the professional to test and diagnose her. I suggest not going that route at this time.

I'm sorry that things are difficult now, but just imagine if you let this continue to grow! Teach her to control her emotions now, before it gets her into real trouble later.

Wishing you a peaceful home, soon!

Warmly,
Wendy Faucett
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach
wendyfaucett@gmail.com
Facebook: Love & Leadership Parent Coaching

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