Avoiding Childish Outbursts, Part 2
If your child has trouble putting his feelings into words, a "feeling thermometer" can help. This is simply a drawing of a thermometer marked with levels of distress. The child can keep the thermometer in his pocket to refer to — and to show you how upset he feels. If he's older, he can simply refer to the names of the various levels to describe how upset he feels.
5. Encourage your child to pursue "Plan B"
Help her realize that, even if she doesn't get her first choice, she may be satisfied with a second or even a third choice. Before taking your little soccer enthusiast to the playground, for instance, you might ask her: "What if no one wants to play soccer today?" Encourage her to come up with a satisfying alternative. For instance, she might say to her playmates: "If I play your game today, can we play soccer tomorrow?"
6. Use a carrot-and-stick approach to discourage outbursts
In the playground scenario described above, the carrot might be that your daughter gets to rent a video if she copes well with the disappointment of not getting to play soccer. The stick might be that she has to go home immediately if she overreacts to the situation.
7. Help your child with "damage control"
A friend or classmate who witnesses an outburst by your child may be reluctant to interact with him in the future. In such cases, a word or two of explanation from you can help repair the damaged relationship and make way for future playdates. Also, try planning a structured activity, such as a movie, for the two children.
8. Show your child how you deal with disappointment
Let him know that life is not always fair and that everyone experiences letdowns - but that you try to remain optimistic. You might say, "I waited all week to borrow a book at the library, and it still hasn't come in. I'm so disappointed. I guess I'll read something else."