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Expert’s two-second trick for dealing with tantrums divides parents

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Leading parent expert and author Maggie Dent recently revealed her top tip for dealing with your little one’s tantrums. And it’s a lot easier than you may think.

On an episode of Parent TV, Maggie explains that when your child is having a tantrum, the best way to approach the situation is to ask a question. This will distract them from whatever is making them angry and focus on what you’re saying. Maggie suggests simple questions such as “Was that Daddy’s car?”, “Do you want a drink?” or “Shall we go outside and play?” This helps the child to move on from what is upsetting or worrying them and think about something much more enticing. And according to Maggie, this two-second trick works every time.

Maggie Dent is not the only expert to suggest this technique. In an interview with the Daily Mail Australia, parenting expert and educator Sharon Witt said that distraction can be a useful technique when trying to deal with your child’s tantrum.

“Sometimes, when our children are in the midst of a tantrum, it can be very difficult for them to control their emotions, much less regulate their thoughts,” she said. “This is when parents can step in and give a simple, calm distraction that can provide a short circuit distraction – giving our young people the change to stop, and calm themselves.”   

Popular parenting website Raising Children also believes that distraction can be an excellent way to manage your child’s behaviour, particularly if they’re getting cranky, they’ve been sitting still for a long time, or are having trouble taking turns with others. Changing the topic, offering a new toy, singing a song together or suggesting another activity, such as a game outside, can help calm a cross child.

However, the website also advises that distraction is not effective if the child hurting someone as, they need to know that this behaviour is not okay. It also suggests that if they’re really upset and having a tantrum, it might be more helpful to acknowledge your child’s feelings.

Not everyone agrees

When Maggie’s fast and effective technique was posted to Facebook, parents were quick to voice their opinions. Many were in favour of the simple distraction tool and believed it to be a brilliant way to deal with a tantrum. “Yes, it’s good to try and change the subject and train of thought to something more familiar!” posted one follower. “This is great,” said another.

However some were completely opposed to the idea, saying that it’s better for kids to “let them feel an emotion and process it.”

“Kids are intelligent enough to pick when adults are being disingenuous,” wrote one parent. “Repeat that approach enough and they quickly lose trust in you, or the child internalises the gaslighting and loses trust in themselves.” Another parent commented, “Let’s gaslight our children instead of dealing with their actual problems and emotions.” Another added, “I don’t know if this method is any good, it fails to teach children emotional intelligence and teaches kids to ignore/ dismiss their feelings.”

Processing feelings is important, however there’s a lot going on for a toddler emotionally, especially when they’ve lost it in the supermarket. It’s not always possible for them to process what they’re feeling. A distraction may help to calm a situations first, which is where Maggie’s technique can come in handy.

True, it might not suit everyone, but in the throes of a tantrum, it may be worth a try? And you never know, it might just do the trick.

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