Handling Toddler Temper Tantrums
If you are the parent of a toddler, then you know that tantrums can be a part of everyday life—or at least it can seem like it!
When you’re caught up in the moment of a temper tantrum and trying to reason with a kicking screaming little person, it can be easy to get overwhelmed yourself and become frustrated.
First, let’s talk about what really causes temper tantrums and then we’ll share some ideas for helping you work through tantrums with your little one.
What Are Tantrums
The severity of temper tantrums can vary depending on the child and may include whining, crying, screaming, kicking, hitting, and even breath holding. Neither gender is more or less prone to tantrums although how children act out may be different.
Whether we like it or not, tantrums are a normal part of development and usually happen between the ages of 1-3 years. Tantrums are young children’s way of showing they're upset or frustrated.
Why Do Tantrums Happen
The most basic explanation is that our little ones use temper tantrums to express themselves. Since young children don’t yet fully understand their emotions and are also still learning to communicate, they get frustrated easily.
Tantrums often happen when kids are tired, hungry, uncomfortable or because they can't get what they want when they want it (aka NOW). Coping with frustration is something your little one will master as he or she gets older, and there are ways you can help.
Have you ever heard of “terrible twos” when it comes to little ones? That’s probably because tantrums peak during the second year of life. Since toddlers can't yet say what they want, feel, or need, a frustrating experience may cause a tantrum. As they learn to communicate, tantrums will decrease.
The age of two is also a time for independence as your little one tries to take on the world and maintain as much control as possible. Upon the sometimes frequent realizations that they can’t have everything they want, when they want it, tantrums often surface.
Unfortunately, preventing tantrums can be a lot harder than it sounds. But with time and patience, you can master this skill! To avoid both you and your little one getting overwhelmed, utilize prevention as often as you can. Here are some ideas that may help:
- Positive attention is key. Instead of focusing on bad behavior by scolding or disciplining, try to praise and reward good behavior.
- Offer choices and control. Try to give toddlers some control over little things. Offer minor choices such as "Do you want orange juice or apple juice?" or "Do you want to brush your teeth before or after taking a bath?" This way, you aren't asking "Do you want to brush your teeth now?"—which inevitably will be answered, "No."
- Remove distractions. If there is something tempting that your child isn’t allowed to have or play with, put it out of sight. This reduces the risk of a tantrum due to telling them “no” about something.
- Be a distraction. If you can’t remove whatever it is they want, become the distraction! Toddlers have short attention spans, and you can quickly take their focus away by taking them to another room or being silly to focus their attention on you instead.
- Teach your little one. It’s not enough for you to simply avoid tantrums. Help kids learn from situations. Start simple and praise them for their progress. Gradually move onto more challenging tasks as they master smaller ones.
- Pick your battles. If your little one wants something that isn’t going to be a huge deal, let him have it! Be accommodating when you can, and larger issues won’t be as big of a deal.
- Know your little one’s limits. You know your toddler better than anyone else. If he’s reaching his limit on something, don’t push it. If you know he is acting out because he is sleepy or hungry and you’ve been running errands all day, don’t get mad at him. Understanding can go a long way.
- Safety comes first. If a safety issue is causing tantrums and your little one isn’t listening, it may be time to introduce time-out or some other form of discipline. Of course, when it comes to discipline, less is more at this age. 2-3 minutes in time-out is an eternity for a little one.
If you find a tactic that works particularly well for your little one, remember it for the future and perfect it! Remember, tantrums won’t last forever, and you are doing a fantastic job as a parent. As always, we are here to be of support to you. Please contact us anytime Care@theollieworld.com.