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10 Things to Do When Your Child Loses His Cool

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6. Use humor. “Humor is often a good defuser,” says Gail Saltz, MD. She's an associate professor of psychiatry at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Weill Cornell School of Medicine. “If you see things going in a downhill direction, being able to do something a little silly or funny can help.”

Teasing, though, is always a no-no. There’s never a good reason to make fun of your child, call him names, or humiliate him.

7. Talk about feelings. Young kids often have trouble talking about their emotions. They might not even know what they’re feeling, and that can add to their frustration.

Help your child understand and talk about his feelings. Teach him that everyone gets upset sometimes, and it’s OK to talk about it, Saltz says.

Ask questions like “What happened?” and “Do you feel sad?” Ask him for ideas for things that will help him calm down.

“This is how you start to help a child get in touch with his feelings and talk about it as opposed to acting out,” Saltz says.

8. Team up. Get on the same side. Saltz suggests saying: “I know this is hard for you. Let’s try to figure out what can make things easier.”

If he wants something, give him a choice, but don’t just give in, Bray says. Say, “Do you want to take a bath now or in 5 minutes?” or “Would you like to clean your room now or after you watch your TV show?”

9. Identify the cause. If you notice a lot of meltdowns, look at what else is going on in your child’s world.

“He might have too many stressors or more activities than he can manage," Saltz says. “Consider rolling back.”

He might be upset about something else, like a recent change in his life. Saltz suggests trying this: Ask your child to draw a picture or play a game where he acts out a situation using dolls. This can help him work out his feelings and give you a better idea of what’s bothering him.

10. Get help. If your child acts out frequently, takes backward steps in things like potty training or sleeping through the night, or resists going to school or doing activities he usually likes, it may be a sign that he has anxiety. A professional therapist can help.

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Reviewed on January 03, 2014

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