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Is it okay to say no in the face of a temper tantrum?


This is a question I am often asked by parents in therapy.

‘How to react if the child throws a temper tantrum?’

If you are a parent, you probably have been through this dilemma and resolved it. Or maybe you are going through it at present.

Some children find it easier to adjust when things don’t go their way. They may occasionally cry or fuss a little, but they’re largely open to adjusting.

Some children find it extremely difficult to make such an adjustment. They tend to get very upset when things don’t go their way. They may cry loudly, shout and insist that their demand be met with. The more you deny them what they want, the more they cry and the temper tantrum aggravates. Ultimately, you reach a place where you don’t know how to react.

In such a scenario, what is better? To fulfill the child’s demand or say no?

I’d say, depends.

If the child throws tantrums in only specific circumstances, for example, only while going to school, chances are higher that there is something specific about that situation that’s getting him upset that needs to be looked into.

If however, the child repeatedly throws tantrums in multiple and routine situations, and especially if the tantrums serve as a means to an end (If I throw a tantrum, mom will agree to let me eat out) it indicates that the child is ‘learning’ a behavior. He is learning that by throwing tantrums, he is likely to get what he wants. In such a scenario, it helps for the child’s long-term adjustment to say no to his demand.

Some of you probably find it difficult to say ‘no’ to your children, especially if your children are young. I completely understand this difficulty. In a more detailed article, I have spoken of this difficulty, what thoughts underlie it and how one can overcome it.

I have also attempted to answer some questions pertaining to disciplining children, such as, how does one decide what behavior needs to change, what is important to help the child modify his/her behavior etc

Read the article here

Share what you think about dealing with temper tantrums through your comments.


Post contributed by: Malini Krishnan

Malini is a Clinical Psychologist and she worked with adolescents and young adults at Inner Space, from 2010 to 2015. 


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