Talking beats spanking as a disciplinary technique for most parents, according to a CNN report -- but boy, I don't know. Not that I'm a fan of corporal punishment or anything; I agree that spanking's not desirable. But talking? Never did much for my kids. My lectures and words of patient instruction leave me feeling like an adult in a Peanuts cartoon, sure that all my kids hear is "Wah wah wah." That's what you get for throwing language at kids with language delays.
Time outs have been pretty effective behavior tamers for us -- time out for the kids when they were young, time out for their devices now. More effective still is changing the environment so that the misbehavior never happens in the first place, leaving enough time for transitions, choosing battles carefully, and having some distractions up my sleeve to derail the bad behavior train.
A few weeks ago, Amanda Rock, About.com guide to Preschoolers, wrote about an advice column in which a parent recommended ice-cold water in the face to defuse a tantrum. The majority of readers responding to her survey thought that was a bad idea, but it's along the lines of the things that work with my son's meltdowns. Cold water's a bit much, but silly or surprising sounds and phrases and behavior from me sometimes get his attention when I need to nudge it. Probably icy water in my face would stop him cold. It pays to think outside the box.
I gathered a list of ten things I've used to tame temper tantrums, from surprises and silliness to ignoring the whole thing. At the end, there's a chance for you to add your own tantrum tricks on a Readers Respond page. There's also a page for submitting your discipline strategies. Submit your tips there, and discuss discipline more generally here in the comments. Does talking work for you, or like me, are you just talking to yourself?
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