Toddler’s world is filled with stress and strains like us adults. They are also very busy playing, learning and discovering new new things in their own small world. Toddlers are trying to master this world and when they aren’t able to accomplish a task, they turn to the only tool at their disposal for venting their frustration. That tool is called tantrum.
Tantrums are often the result of kid’s frustrations with the world. Temper tantrums is a sudden, unplanned display of emotion. It is not just an act to get attention. Tantrums enter into toddler’s world at the age of 2 and find its way out as he grows old by four. They are common in every child’s life as frustrations are an unavoidable part in their lives.
As language skills improve, tantrums tend to decrease. Toddlers tend to understand more than they can express. Imagine not being able to communicate what you want. A frustrating experience that may precipitate tantrums.
Increasing need for autonomy also causes tantrums. Toddlers want a sense of independence and control over environment. This creates a kind of power struggle.
The most important thing to remember is not to lose your cool. When you are faced with a kid in the throes of a tantrum, no matter what the cause is, keep calm. Don’t get frustrated. Take deep breaths and think clearly.
Your child relies on you. Hitting and spanking won’t help. They send the message that using force and physical punishment are okay. That will lead to more negative behaviors.
First, try to understand what is going on with the child. Where the child is coming from. If the child is disappointed, he needs comfort. If he is hungry/sleepy, he may need food or sleep.
In a different situation, if the child is refused something, toddlers have a fairly simple reasoning skill. So you aren’t going to get far in explaining. Ignoring the outburst is one way to handle it.
Kids, who are in danger of hurting themselves and others, should be moved to a safer and quiet place.
Strategies in dealing with tantrums
· Make sure he is acting up because he isn’t getting enough attention. Shower the kids with attention. Even if the kid is playing, just talking to him, commenting and praising his behavior will go a long way. Rewarding him for good behavior helps a lot. This in turn will help to increase those positive behaviors.
· Try and give them control over small things. Like “Do you want apple or orange juice?” “Do you want to brush now or later?” “Where do you want to play?”
· Keep off-limits objects out of reach or out of sight. So the struggle becomes less.
· Distract the child. Take advantage of the short attention span of the toddlers. Replace the object. Take him away from the scene of action.
· Set the stage for success when the child is playing. When he is trying to master new task offer him age-appropriate toys or games. Start something simple before moving in to challenging ones.
· Consider the request carefully when the child wants something. Is it outrageous? May be it isn’t. Choose your battles. Accommodate when you can.
· Know your child’s limits. When the child is sleepy or tired it is not the time to go for a grocery shopping.
· If safety issue is involved, opt for time-out. Kids must understand that you are inflexible on safety issues.
After the upheaval of tantrums, what next?
· Don’t reward the child after tantrums. If you give in, then tantrums becomes a launching pad for the kid. If you allow yourself to be held hostage by tantrums, your kid will continue to use them perpetually.
· Toddlers will be vulnerable after tantrums. So now is the time for big hugs and reassurances that no matter what he is loved.
· Make sure your kid gets enough sleep and food on time. That will dramatically reduce the tantrums.
When do you need a doctor’s help?
· You are uncomfortable with your responses or you feel out of control.
· You keep giving in.
· The tantrum increases in frequency, intensity and duration.
· Your child hurts himself or others.
· Your child is destructive.
· Your child displays more low self-esteem, or extreme dependence.