Severe Tantrums 101: Targeting Skills

Severe tantrums in kids can be the result of a variety of reasons from lack of bonding to inadequate communication often seen in kids with poor communication skills like those with many forms of autism or severe langauge disabilities. There are a number of resources to work from and if your child has autism or more severe communication problems  direct therapy will be necessary. For those parents with kids who have severe tantrums, but who are  still within the normal spectrum here are a variety of  programs and books, to help assess and target lagging executive function and language skills. Severe tantrums are being defined as those lasting for 45 minutes or longer with regular frequency at least monthly and they are 5 years old or older. This is not a recipe for success just some valuable resources to help you think about new ways to approach your child and offer activities and resources to help build  language and executive function skills.

Thinkkids, a behavioral program located at  Massachusetts General Hospital,  focuses on executive function and provides an informative executive skills assessment. Smart but Scattered  by Peg Dawson and Richard Guare offers additional insights and strategies into executive function. Direct techniques to help reduce angry outburst from “aggressive testers” the label that Setting Limits with Your Strong-Willed Child by Robert J. Mackenzie Ed.D., gives children who don’t take no for an answer. Other books like How To Talk So  Kids Will Listen by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlis and Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline, Jim Fay, and Eugene H. Peterson provide additional resources  that help parents modify their communication in order to reduce the number of battles. Respectful Parenting Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Co-operation, by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson provide a set of  “feelings” and “needs” cards that can be used to play games with your child and help build emotional vocabulary. Finally Thinking Games to Play with Your Child by Cheryl Gerson Tuttle, Penny Hutchins Paquette, explores games that help build critical thinking skills. These books  offer tools that can improve executive function, language and communication within the family in order to decrease conflicts.

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