A Surprising Way to Stop Tantrums

This month, Anton has been really fussy. He’s three, so I’m sure some of that comes with the age, but it was making us all a little crazy. I wondered what might help: Should I give him time outs? Does he need more sleep? Should he eat less sugar? Is he nervous about school? Then I remembered a reader’s comment I read years ago…

Joy left a comment on this post:

The most life-changing book I read was Playful Parenting. The main idea was that you need to make time regularly to sit on the floor and PLAY with your children. Doing other stuff with them is great, but doesn’t count as “floor time.” Temper tantrums went from nearly every day to almost never when I started doing twenty minutes of floor time most days when my son was two or three. Now he’s six, and my daughter is three.

So, I took her advice. Almost every morning for the past two weeks, I’ve been playing on the floor for twenty minutes with Anton. Just the two of us. We’ll usually build a train track all around the room (“to China!” he says, inspired by Knuffle Bunny). I’ll make sure to keep my mind present — if it starts to wander (to work, home stuff, whatever), I bring it back to the moment. I’ll build a bridge, comment on the tracks Anton chooses, or even just watch him and the way he breathes really slowly when he concentrates.

Honestly, it’s REMARKABLE what a difference it has made, even on the very first day. He’s so much more relaxed and less wild — maybe because he isn’t trying to compete for attention; he knows he has it.

Do your kids go through these tantrum phases, too? Holy smokes, it can test one’s patience! How have you helped curb them?

P.S. Trying out slow parenting, and 20 surprising parenting tips.

(Photo by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo.)