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UltimateMama was recently at the Gap when her three year old decided it was time to hit her!  A trantrum or meltdown erupted as this little girl turned into a little monster!  Shocked, stunned, and embarrassed UltimateMama put down the cute dark denim jeans embellished with hearts that she planned to purchase for her daughter and immediately addressed the situation. 

Since they were in a store a "time-out" seemed ineffective so UltimateMama gave her a "sit down and count to five".  Her daughter sat down on the floor of the store and softly counted to five. Then, UltimateMama explained that we as a society do not hit people or objects.  Despite her daughter's protests, they left the store empty handed as UltimateMama did not want to "reward" unacceptable behaviour with new jeans! 

UltimateMama's tips for dealing with children's meltdowns or tantrums:

1. Address the situation immediately.

2. Use a firm, businesslike voice (do not yell or appear flustered or frustrated).  Make sure you are calm, cool, and collected – fake it if you must.  If you act frustrated your child will pick up on it and act out more.

3. Leave the "scene of the crime".  Get out of the location (unless it is your home) right away. Whether it is a store, restaurant, park, or friend's house you need to remove your child from the situation.  Even if you have a shopping cart filled with groceries, you need to leave the grocery store immediately.

4. Talk to the child to unveal what triggered the tantrum.  Ask them direct questions like "are you upset about something that happened in school?", "do you feel that your little brother gets in your way?", "are you hungry?".  Sometimes kids do not know how to communicate their feelings and may not verbally express them unless you help them!

5.  Move on to the next activity.  If you are in a contained area like an airplane or religious service you may need to divert their attention to something more productive.  Pull out a book, a packet of stickers, a coloring book, or a magnetic pad and have them focus on something else.

6.  Offer your child a snack or some water.  UltimateMama knows that she can turn into a mean bear if she is hungry and her daughters are the same way!  Sometimes, a sip of water or a few crackers can calm down even the loudest voices and end the kicking and screaming.

7.  Suggest a treat or reward for good behavior and a penalty for continued bad behavior.  This can be tricky because you don't want to reward terrible behavior but if you remind your child that if they act in a nice manner then when they come home you will read their favorite book or play their treasured game with them they may switch to a "nice" child.  Moreover, if they continue acting inappropriately then you should tell them their favorite toy or stuffed animal will be taken away when they get home.

8. Offer support. Your child may be tired, hungry, or just bothered and may just need you to pick them up in your arms and give them hugs and kisses! Use common sense and do not take your child shopping for groceries or attire if they have been in school all day long.  Give your child a break and let them wind down after a long, hard day of learning and playing.

No matter how your child acted on a particular day, the best thing to do is to quietly creep into their bedroom at night and watch them sleep.  You will be reminded that your child really is a little angel. 

Another idea is to get out the old photo albums and look how your child is growing up before your eyes.  You will realize at various stages they might have lashed out and been uncontrollable but watching them grow is the best present you will ever receive from your children.

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