Using Playfulness to Stop Tantrums - Brave Guide
Use Playfulness to stop tantrums in angry kids

Using Playfulness to Stop Tantrums

It’s Hard to Watch Your Child Throw a Temper Tantrum

When you are in the middle of watching your child have a tantrum, again, there are so many thoughts going through your head. You feel frustrated at their behavior. You feel helpless when trying to get them to calm down. You feel concerned over their future given their current behavior.

And underneath it all is an overwhelming desire for your child to be okay, to not have to struggle so much.

We have been examining 5 out-of-the-box ideas for helping your child calm down once they have reached meltdown status, and today, we are going to talk about bringing playfulness into the situation. You can read the other articles starting here.

Also, make sure to download the free CHEAT SHEET that walks you through all 5 steps and gives practical, actionable solutions for when you are in the middle of a tantrum.

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    Big behaviors such as meltdowns and tantrums inspire big emotions in us, as a parent! It can be hard to keep your cool let alone have your head on straight enough to bring in a sense of playfulness in order to calm your child down! That being said, playfulness can be an invaluable tool in getting your child’s attention and getting them onto the path to calming down.

    Here are some fun mom ways to try out playfulness as a means of calming your child’s tantrum.

    Tell a Joke

    Spending 10 minutes googling jokes can be time well spent if your child is having a lot of tantrums. Here is how I would use telling a joke:

    Child: “I don’t want to eat eggs for breakfast, why are you making me eat eggs, why do you always make eggs! I hate eggs!” (Or any other tantrum style yelling)

    Mom: “Hey kiddo, do you know what the egg said to the clown?”

    Child: Stops screaming and looks at parent

    Mom: “Why do you crack me up!”

    Now, telling a joke isn’t going to get your child to eat their breakfast or drastically change their behavior, but if you can get their attention, and get them to stop screaming for a second, you can get your foot in the door, so to speak and work towards calming them down.

    Use physical humor

    Kids love physical humor. This is why cartoons like bugs bunny, angry birds, and the like are so popular. If you decide to try some physical humor, think Three Stooges or I love Lucy style.

    In the middle of a tantrum if you “accidentally” walk into the wall or trip over the couch, or get tangled up in the vacuum cord, your child is likely to laugh. Laughter is one of the best ways to stop a tantrum. Kids (and adults alike, find it very hard to be angry when they are smiling, laughing, and having fun.

    Be willing to laugh at yourself

    In addition to getting your kids to laugh at you, make sure that you work at laughing at yourself. Again, laughter brings a levity to situations. It is an antidote to anger. It helps communicate to your child that it’s okay to take a breath and enjoy the moment.

    If you find that you have engaged a tantrum with anger, frustration or any other un-helpful response. Stop, and make a joke about your behavior. Be willing to laugh at your angry response: “Oh man, I must look so silly right now being so angry at you! I bet my eyes are the size of plates! Hahaha! I better calm down, so they don’t burst out of my head!”

    Use videos, photos and other visual tools

    Another great way to bring playfulness and laughter into a tense situation is to use visual tools such as YouTube videos, silly photos, memes, etc. My kids love doing the “try not to laugh” videos and these work as a great distraction and interruption tool.

    I would suggest that you bookmark a few in advance so that you ensure that they are kid appropriate and would be funny to your child.

    Use a silly consequence for bad behavior

    This is another fun, playful tool that I use with my kiddos when they are spinning out into a tantrum and in the middle of behavior that is not appropriate such as yelling, hitting, being obnoxiously loud on purpose, etc.

    I will let them know that if they continue the behavior then they won’t get any salad for dinner. Or, that if they keep throwing the fit, that they won’t get to read cookbooks today.

    Make sure that the consequence is something that you are going to take away (vs. make them do) and isn’t something that they normally want or have.

    Also make sure that it is something that you can actually allow them to do if they decide to call your bluff. If you threaten no salad, there should be some salad at dinner for them to enjoy if they so choose!

    What not to do when using playfulness in the midst of a tantrum

    It is important to note here that you never want to make fun of or laugh at your child, especially during a tantrum. This will cause self-esteem issues, additional frustration, and an overall lack of trust. Humor that is kind and used to de-rail a tantrum is much different than mean spirited poking fun of type humor!

    This article is part of a 6 part series on calming children who are having temper tantrums.

    Next up on the blog, we are going to be looking closer at giving your child power when trying to calm them down. You can read the series from the beginning here.

    Also, don’t forget to download that handy Cheat Sheet and get it print out and stowed in your hide-away spot to use next time your kiddo goes into full on tantrum mode. (Mine’s in the bathroom – I am not above locking myself in when necessary!) 

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