5 Tips for Teaching Your Kid to Vent (No Tantrum Required)

5 Tips for Teaching Your Kid to Vent (No Tantrum Required)

Letting kids blow off steam is healthy. Here’s how they can do it without a tantrum.

By Judy Koutsky

We all need to vent. While adults (usually) tend to vent in healthier ways -- like going to the gym or talking it out with a friend -- kids don’t always have the coping mechanism to deal with anger or disappointment. Here are some ways to handle your little one when he needs to blow off some steam.

1. Sometimes reasoning doesn’t work, so don’t try it. There are times when your child is so worked up over something, he simply can’t be reasoned with, and that’s OK. (Adults have those moments, too.) Instead of trying to explain why something didn’t work or why a friend did something, go in a completely different direction. Stay quiet and give your child a hug, advises Tina Nocera, author of Parents Ask, Experts Answer: Nurturing Happy, Healthy Children. Sometimes just showing you are there – and that you care – can help diffuse the situation.

2. A little food goes a long way. Kids often have extreme highs and lows when they’re hungry. When their blood sugar levels drop, they can be especially irritable and cranky, and the slightest thing can set them off. The fix: Give them a healthy carb and protein combo (like whole wheat bread and peanut butter) to get rid of the jittery feeling and restore some calm.

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3. Distract for now, talk later. Talking to your kids in the heat of the moment rarely works. Instead, get them to focus on something else -- a puzzle, a coloring book, a doll --and once they are calm enough, have a discussion. This empowers children to get their feelings out, while also giving them a chance to regain self-control, says Nocera.

4. Take a walk to a playground. Physical activity is a healthy way to vent and release pent-up frustration. “Whenever my kids are on the brink of a temper tantrum, I automatically hit up our favorite park,” says Johanna R., a mom of three in Richmond, Virginia. “I have a host of goodies – a soccer ball, a Frisbee – in the trunk.” After exerting some energy, they may forget what made them so upset, or they may be in a much better mood to talk about it.


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5. Try a little positivity. “Things don’t always go our way, but teaching our children to find the good in a situation is an important trait,” says Nocera. For example, you can say, “I know you are disappointed because your friend can’t come over to play because she isn’t feeling well, but let’s draw her a picture so she can feel better.” By doing this, you’ve presented a positive attitude and empathy for someone else.

How do you let your kids vent?

Judy Koutsky is the former Editorial Director of KIWI magazine, a green parenting publication. She was also Executive Editor of Parenting.com, AOL Parent and BabyTalk.com. Follow her on Twitter @JudyKoutsky.

Image ©iStock.com/YazolinoGirl

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