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Kids' temper tantrums can be solved with collaborative problem-solving, says B.C. psychologist

02/23/2015 06:27 EST | Updated 04/25/2015 05:59 EDT
Whilst most parents find it almost impossible to stop their children throwing fits, screaming, kicking and crying for what seems like no apparent reason, one B.C. psychologist says explaining their point of view could help.

"Meltdowns are going to be expected … reasoning is going to be limited, but there are approaches that you can take to kind of mitigate that meltdown," Pam Narang, a registered psychologist at B.C. Children's Hospital, told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Narang advocates for an approach called collaborative problem-solving, pioneered by American clinician Ross Greene.

The approach uses three steps to resolving a temper tantrum:

1. Calm everyone down

Narang said it's important to take an empathetic approach and try to put aside your own agenda while you work to understand what your child needs.

"Start off by kind of disarming the situation a little bit, get everybody calmed down so that you can actually hear one another."

2. Explain your point of view

Narang advises starting by explaining your concerns around safety or the impact your child will have on another child.

"If you would like to have a more harmonious home, it's usually a better idea to see both sides of the story."

3. Come to a solution together

Narang said one way she gets her own toddler to agree on a solution is through the "first … and then" approach.

"For example, a child might really want to play or read a book, but the need in the moment is a diaper change … so you might say something like 'First diaper change, then book.'"

She said this way, you acknowledge what your child wants to do, while still making sure the diaper gets changed.

Narang is giving a talk called Getting a 'Win-Win' with your Child, on the collaborative problem-solving approach, with her colleague Tina Wang at 7 p.m. PT on Monday at Vancouver's Central Library.

To hear the full interview with Pam Narang, click the audio labelled: Problem-solving temper tantrums.

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