The Art Of Dealing With Toddler Tantrums
Every parent will have to deal with a toddler throwing temper tantrums at some point. Something triggers the child’s emotions and the crying, screaming and kicking ensues. Tantrums are never pretty and children between the ages of 1 and 4 are the most prone to having them. Dealing with toddler tantrums is frustrating for any parent but your reaction to them will dictate the outcome.
The first thing you need to do is understand why toddlers throw tantrums. Toddlers are too young to have well-developed coping skills. When they fail to get what they want they get frustrated and react the only way they know how. Children under the age of two tend to throw tantrums because they lack the communication skills to ask for a toy, a cookie or something else they want. Children between the ages of 3 and 4 are more autonomous and they want to assert their desires and test the boundaries. If you fail to comply with their demands, they throw a fit simply because they do not get what they want.
When your child throws a tantrum, the most important you can do is to stay calm. This is not the time to engage in a yelling match with your child. Children in this state are beyond reason. Nothing you can say or do at this point is going to make the tantrum stop. In fact, it will usually only make things worse.
Remaining calm will help the child calm down faster. When the crying stops, you can talk your child but attempting to do so during the tantrum will only frustrate you. If you feel like you are losing your cool, leave the room calmly, regain your composure and return after a few minutes. Avoid storming out of the room because that makes the child feel abandoned and will only make your toddler more upset.
Never give in to a child’s unreasonable demands just to get the tantrum to stop. Giving the child what he or she wants can be especially tempting if you are in a public place when the child loses control. Forget about what other people think and resist the urge to cave in just to get the crying to stop. If you are in a restaurant or a store, simply take your child outside until he or she regains control. If you concede, the message to the child is that throwing a tantrum is an effective way to get whatever he or she wants. This simply sets the stage for future outbursts that are even more difficult to stop.
Creating a diversion is a useful technique because children have short attention spans. If you can identify the situations that tend to cause tantrums, you may be able to avoid them. Try to divert the child’s attention to something interesting in the immediate environment. Point out a puppy, a flower, some twinkling lights, or anything that will grab the child’s attention and get his or her mind off the tantrum.
For children over the age of 18 months, the occasional time-out may be effective when other techniques fail or the tantrum is especially intense. Figure approximately one minute in time-out for every year of age. Put the child in a quiet and boring environment and explain that the purpose is to allow time to calm down. If the child leaves the designated spot, simply guide them back to the area firmly and then go about your business for the allotted amount of time. Keep an eye out but do not interact with your child during time-out.
Dealing with toddler tantrums
Sometimes a good firm hug will stop the hysterics. A hug will make your child feel secure and reinforce how much you care even if you do not condone the behavior at the time. To avoid entering into a battle of wills, do not say anything during the hug.
After your child has calmed down take some time to talk it over. Hold the child on your lap and discuss what just happened and why you will not tolerate that type of behavior. Speak in simple terms and keep it short. Acknowledge your child’s frustration and explain how expressing wants and desires in a calmer way will achieve better results. After your talk, hug the child and say, “I love you.” This is important because you are reinforcing good behavior. You are rewarding your child for having the ability to settle down and talk to you.
Toddlers will typically through a tantrum either because they are frustrated or because they are trying to be manipulative. As a parent, you must identify the purpose of the tantrum and act accordingly. A child who is frustrated over an inability to do something requires your support and empathy. Offering a helping hand under these circumstances gives you a great opportunity to bond with your child and make him or her realize that you are always there as a comforting resource.
If the child is throwing a tantrum to manipulate you, you will have to turn to creative parenting. You cannot let the child believe he or she can have or do anything by acting inappropriately. Make the child understand that proper behavior will always yield better results. When possible, offer an alternative. If your child is crying because he or she cannot have a cookie right before dinner, offer a couple of carrot sticks or some other healthy alternative instead.
Children who throw temper tantrums are going through a normal stage of development. Some children react more intensely than others do. Highly sensitive children tend to throw more extreme tantrums. Understand that your child’s tantrums are products of frustration and sometimes a result of an inability to communicate rather than a desire to have something that is forbidden. The more you can stay in control of your emotions, the easier it will be for your child to learn how to behave appropriately when frustration sets in. Always reward good behavior and resist the urge to give in just to make peace. With patience and understanding, you can weather the storm and avoid future unpleasant displays of emotion.
We hope that dealing with toddler tantrums is made a bit easier with this article!