Beyond Time Out
Tantrums for young children are a given—a necessity! They help your child develop a sense of self and teach her how to maneuver the world around her. When children are older, it is easier to talk about emotions and consequences. But how do you help a child under the age of three (and yourself) get through a tantrum?
A favorite method to use with 18-36 month-olds is something called “The Safe Space”. It is recommended that you use a specific blanket for this space and only this purpose—that way you can take it with you anywhere a tantrum shows up unexpectedly.
When your child begins to tantrum, bring her over to the Safe Space blanket, set her gently on it, and calmly say something like, “Oh, I am sorry you are so mad. I understand that you are mad. It’s okay to be mad, but it’s not okay to _____ (hit, throw, bite, etc.). You need to stay on your Safe Space until you are ready.” Then you let your child sit until they calm down—really! If they get off the Safe Space blanket, calmly put her back on it without additional attention (and repeat until she learns). Once your child calms down, she may get off the Safe Space.
The idea behind this technique for children under three is that it is a developmentally appropriate way for them to learn self-control, and it lets them learn that it is okay to be mad—we just have to do it appropriately.
Carrie Tamminga, MA, LSLS Cert AVEd Listening & Spoken Language Specialist