Give a Timeline
When you want to tell your children about a fun event planned for later in the day but want to avoid them constantly asking if it is time to go, include when you will go in relation to your everyday schedule. For example, "Today we're going to the park after nap time/chores/dinner." (Or you could just surprise them. Then, if they didn't deserve to go, they will never know and thus can't throw a tantrum.)
This response also helps in establishing an everyday schedule by preparing your kids for the next part of your daily routine. For example,"You can watch one more episode and then we will have lunch and take a nap." When kids know what to expect, they are less likely to get upset, as they would if you just turned off the TV and said, "Nap time!"
It also works for when your kids ask to watch a movie, play outside, or eat a treat but need to complete something first. Instead of saying no and inciting a tantrum, say yes followed by "after you [insert action]." For example, "Yes, you can have a cookie, after you finish your salad." Of course, if they do not complete the action, then they do not get what they asked for.
If there are any limitations that come with the permission, express them immediately and remind your child again once they get the activity/treat. For example, "Yes, you can have a cookie after you finish your salad, but only one cookie." [Child finishes salad.] "Here is your cookie. Remember, you only get one." Your child then will be less likely to whine for more or throw a tantrum when you say no to more.
Explain Why Not
If the answer cannot be yes, explain why. Sometimes when kids understand why you are saying no, they accept it more easily. Examples:
- "No, you cannot have a cookie because there are none left."
- "No, we cannot go to the park right now because it is getting dark outside."
- "No, I cannot play with you because I am cooking dinner and then it will be time to eat."
If the answer is no right now but could be a yes tomorrow, include that in your explanation. Just be sure not to make any promises you can't keep. For example, in correlation with the above examples:
- "but we can make some more tomorrow."
- "but we can go in the morning after we get our chores done."
- "but after dinner we can play one game before bed."
- "but you can have some blueberries."
- "but we can play together in your room."
- "but you can help me with dinner."
If a tantrum still ensues, follow through with your discipline every time. What helped us was making a rules chart with clear consequences for home and in public so Caden knew to expect discipline no matter where we are. Knowing you mean business and are not just full of empty threats may deter your child from having future tantrums.