Babysitter guide: how to manage children’s whims?

The child is having a tantrum and what are you doing? The typical reaction is to try to stay calm and try them all – alternating prayers, promises and threats – with the result that you get nervous and the child continues the tantrum. So is there a better way to handle children’s whims?

The whims are made in two

First thing to do, remember that a tantrum takes two. What does it mean? That the intensity of the tantrum and the negative consequences it generates (in terms of nervousness, tension, etc.) depend not only on the child but also on you. The whim is not something the child “does” but something you do together. He doesn’t want to wash his hands, you tell him to stop it because it’s late, he starts crying and throws something on the ground … Well, it’s a bit of a ping-pong game and the players are you and the child. Seen this way, it is clear that if you manage the whim well, you can greatly limit the level of “capriciousness”. Or at least the duration, intensity and consequences of the whims. Let’s see how.

First: stay calm

Obvious advice, but difficult to follow, we know. Yet staying calm when the baby throws a tantrum is the most important thing not to trigger the aforementioned chain reaction. Take a deep breath, maybe go to another room for a few seconds, then go back to him or her and play down: “today you are really angry!”, “Let’s see what we can do”. This way you avoid increasing tension, but above all you give a good example of how to manage a problematic situation, and make the child feel that you know what to do, that you do not lose your head. This makes him feel safe: he is nervous and angry, but you can help him because you are in control and you can cope with the situation.

Why is the child having tantrums?

You managed to stay calm. And now? Now you need to understand why the baby is having a tantrum. And we are not referring to the apparent reason (the socks he doesn’t like, he doesn’t want to go to school) but to the real reason, which you don’t see and which is often difficult to understand. Yes, because children’s whims always have two levels: there is the apparent reason (“I absolutely want ice cream now”, “I don’t want to get out of the car”) and the real reason, which is something completely different. For example:

  • I feel insecure because I have started a new school
  • i miss mom
  • i miss my pacifier
  • I’m jealous of my little brother
  • I want to see if I can change a rule
  • and so on…

The child throwing tantrums is saying “Something is wrong, I need your attention.” He doesn’t know what the problem is, you have to help him.

Solve the immediate problem

Finding the real reason for the whim isn’t always easy. Maybe it will take some time, maybe you won’t understand it. When the child has a tantrum, in any case, try to resolve the apparent reason for the tantrum. If he doesn’t want to wear his belt in the car or wants to play with a knife, of course you will have to say no. Briefly explaining that it is dangerous. In these cases there is no room for bargaining.

But if you can please him, do it: play with him another five minutes before going to bed, allow him an ice cream before dinner but very small (if you know the parents would agree). Find a compromise: Does he really not want to do his homework and wants to go to the park? Today it is not possible, but tomorrow after school we go to the park. And to remind us, let’s tie a knot in the handkerchief! Value his request, and don’t dismiss it as nonsense. As soon as he is calmer, however, deal with the real reason for the whim: accept his emotion.

Make him feel that you understand him

The whim is not rational and a rational response is not needed. In other words: it is useless to explain it. If he doesn’t want to put on his jacket, it’s useless to talk for half an hour to explain that the cold will make him sick. The child who throws a tantrum does not need a rational explanation, but an emotional response, because that is where the whim comes from, from his emotions: confusion, sorrow, jealousy, and much more.

So what you need is to make him feel understood, to make him feel that you understand how he feels. This will calm the tantrum, because the child feels that the message has come, that you understand that he has a problem and you are there to help him. And to explain how he feels, because he often doesn’t know how to name what he feels. 

To recap: when the child throws a tantrum he remains calm, plays down, tries to accommodate the immediate request if possible. And then look at him and make him feel understood: “You really don’t want to go to the pool today, do you? would you like to go home and play. Yes, you’re right, that would be great. So you know what we do? As soon as we get home we start playing. What do you say?”

To better manage your child’s tantrums, of course, you will need to talk to the parents and understand if they are tantrums only with you or even with mom and dad, if the baby is having a hard time, and how the tantrums are handled. in family. Any “difficult” behavior of the child must be faced together by the babysitter and parents.