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Author of the "Tantrum Survival Guide" shares updated science on dealing with toddler tantrums

Putting a toddler in "timeout" is no longer advised.

To say the Sanchez House is busy, is an understatement. Jen and Kenny Sanchez, of San Carlos, are raising Zane, 5, and Leona, 3. Even though Leona is only 3, she definitely has an opinion.

“We will just tell you her nickname is ‘Bossy Barbara,' said Jen Sanchez.

Both youngsters have their moments of having a temper tantrum. Experts say tantrums are a very normal yet very loud part of raising kids.

“Most tantrums are between 30 seconds to five minutes long,” said Dr. Rebecca Schrag Hershberg, clinical psychologist and author of “The Tantrum Survival Guide.”

Dr. Hershberg says a tantrum is a behavioral expression of emotion and they usually happen when toddlers don’t have the words or skills to describe their feelings. She says children don’t want to have a tantrum but they can’t help it.

So what does she suggest parents do when a tantrum is happening? 

Do not put your toddler in timeout

“The idea of a timeout with a capital ‘T’ and a capital ‘O’, with a number of minutes for the age, in a timeout chair, that’s not appropriate for a behavior expression of emotion,” said Dr. Hershberg.

Try to stay as calm as you can and just sit with your child  

Dr. Hershberg says sometimes that might mean you have to multitask.

“Oh sweetie, I see you’re still having a tough time.  I need to check my phone and I need to return a couple of work emails, so I am sitting right here and I am just going to do that,” describes Dr. Hershberg when parents ask what they should say to their child during the tantrum.

If your child is becoming aggressive with other children, pets or hurting themselves, calmly take them out of the room

“Obviously if there is any unsafe behavior, you pick up the child and remove him or her from the situation and you do so in a very firm but still in a kind and loving way,” explained Dr. Hershberg.

Teach your toddler coping skills, but not during the tantrum

Dr. Hershberg says no one learns anything when they are mid-meltdown. Instead, look for moments of success and reward the positive behavior.

“You just sit with them and say, ‘check you out, look at your calm body and you kind voice, give me a high five,’” said Dr. Hershberg.

If you do lose your patience, take a breath, re-group, and use the opportunity to explain your feelings to your child

 Most importantly, give yourself some grace.

“Sometimes, I need a timeout, if they’re on their 4th or 5th tantrum and it’s only noon.  I need to go into the other room for a minute,” laughed Kenny Sanchez.

Parents taking a timeout? I think we can all agree that’s totally okay.  Let’s be honest, we are all human and we are all just doing our best.

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