Have you ever been to Walmart or Toys R Us and witnessed a child that was screaming or having a tantrum on the floor? I’m sure we all have. And if honest, most of you would say that your first thought was for the caregiver to discipline the child or that the parent has no control over their own child.

I have sympathy for these parents because some of them actually are not sure what to do when the blow-ups occur. They are frustrated, exhausted, and often times, without hope. This, my friend, is the most frequent complaint that parents often have and are in dire need of solutions for.

As a pediatric occupational therapist that has been trained in ABA and has provided service to children for >10 years, I have learned a few things of what not to do and what actually works.

Dr. Baker has reported that there are typically 4 reasons for a tantrum: 1)waiting 2)demands 3)unmet wishes for attention and 4)threats to self image.

Most parents would agree that #1 and 2 may be the most likely reasons that a tantrum may occur. I hear frequently that tantrums often occur when a child has to leave the fun activity to complete or participate in the not-so-fun activity such as, eating, setting the table, homework, etc.

When understanding behaviors, we have to understand that all behaviors have a trigger and there is a function that is associated with the act.

Behaviors usually are attention seeking, escape behaviors, or sensory based (avoidant). Here are 3 tips that you can implement today to yield greater success: 

1) Rule #1, if the child has a meltdown or tantrum is: Get the child to calm down. - use the power of distraction or whatever works. The key is to make sure that you remain calm as well.

2)Use a social story and discuss with the child while you are at home, in the car, and as you enter the store the following: the expectation, rewards for good behavior, and what you are going to/not going to purchase.

3) Don't forget the pleasures of life! Keep them preoccupied with reading books, listening to music, fidget toys, coloring, etc. Be creative.

Tyneise Seaborough, OTR/L

Author of the new e-book, Hope for Autism: 10 Practical Solutions to Everyday Challenges. ***Release date 7/15/2014



*Find more tips for toileting, behaviors, eye contact, picky eaters, sleeping, homework, waiting, play skills, and interviews with other experts