WHAT ARE TANTRUMS?
Undoubtedly, tantrums among toddlers are one of the most common and challenging hurdles of parenting. Ask any parent this, and they’ll definitely agree. Tantrums are difficult to grasp, prevent and even harder to break as they’re happening. The age when they’re typically expected to display tantrums are usually between 1 to 3 years old, although sometimes, they may extend longer to 6 years old. As they grow older, this not only presents a problem for the child but for the parents as well.
Now, how are tantrums defined? They are episodes which feature:
· Violent body motions
· Throwing objects
· Falling to the floor
· Banging one’s head, hands and feet against the floor
Depending on the lightness and heaviness of the exhibited symptoms, it’s first and foremost a toddler having difficulty controlling their emotions. Emotions that are felt during an episode of a tantrum can range from anger, loss, disappointment, to deep frustrations. Oftentimes, these intense emotions arise from when the toddler feels that something that they deserve, need, or desire is deliberately withheld from them, this could be a number of things such as a lollipop at a candy store, or a toy from a toy store, and so on.
TRIGGERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Spot for when when your toddler’s energy is low, this will result in irritability, clinginess, crying, boredom with toys and constant demands for attention. These can easily lead to distress, so it’s important to spot these signs and nip them at the bud as they arise.
· Hunger Pangs
When hunger hits, a toddler tends to act irrational and grumpy as their blood sugar levels have fallen. Your toddler might have a difficult time reasoning or focusing for long. Signs to look out for are them feeling uncomfortable or getting upset over food choices.
· Sibling Rivalry
Have you ever gotten your child a better toy and have your toddler erupt in a tantrum? This boils down to frustration and anger as to why their sibling has a better toy than they do and manifests their dissatisfaction by showing anger.
· Long Waits
Toddlers don’t have a great sense of time. Waiting for 5 minutes in line at the supermarket might feel like forever for them. This is when you’ll see your toddler start getting fidgety and move around a lot and this could lead to them acting up.
When your toddler has nothing to do as a result of losing interest with their toys or their playmates, that’s when they start feeling tireless and upset about the lack of activities to do. So keep a sign on them when they’re starting to feel that way.
HOW TO RESPOND TO TANTRUMS
Firstly, as a rule of thumb for parents… Remember to stay calm. It’s best to not threaten, scold or ague with your toddler as this will only worsen the situation. You can later speak to them about their behavior when their feeling better. Ignoring the tantrum is also affirmative way to show that the temper tantrum is unsuccessful and has no effect.
#1 Practice Positive Reinforcement
It’s important to respond to good temperament and good choices by reinforcing healthy and positive behavior. Once you start implementing this action, your toddler will recognize that good behavior is rewarded. When doing this, be specific of what you’re praising, by doing this, your child will know what they’re being rewarded for.
#2 Address Your Toddler’s Feelings
Another way to respond to your toddler’s tantrum is by letting your child know that you’re aware and you’re understanding their frustrations. Sometimes, acknowledgement might diffuse the intensity of the tantrum as toddlers are seeking attention. Ask them if you could help them, and what can you do to ease their discomfort.
#3 Teach Your Toddler To Identify and Label Their Emotions
At times, toddlers feel a range of negative emotions, such as frustration and disappointment and they lash out in tantrums because they don’t know how to describe their feelings. Help them to label they’re emotions by describing to them, “I can see you’re angry. You are shouting out loud, your face is red and you are crying.” This practice will allow your toddler to develop word to describe their emotions.
#4 Be A Good Example
As parents, you are the model in which toddlers replicate their behavior from. It might not appear so, but your child pays attention to you and watches your behavior at most times. So, the next time you’re angry or frustrated, be mindful of how you handle yourself in those situations as your toddlers are watching.
#5 Teach Your Child How To Handle Anger & Frustration
When toddlers are properly taught how to handle their problems, they’ll slowly work on their issues without being upset and throwing tantrums. This will lead them to be more independent in terms of resolving their problems.
It’s important to note that there are some temper tantrums are too disruptive for parents to ignore. On such occasions send or take your toddler to his room for 2 to 5 minutes might help. Examples of disruptive behavior include:
• Clinging to you or following you around during the tantrum
• Hitting you
• Screaming or yelling for such a long time that it gets on your nerves
• Having a temper tantrum in a public place such as a restaurant or church (move your child to another place for his time-out. The rights of other people need to be protected.)
• Throwing something or damaging property during a temper tantrum
BENEFITS OF TANTRUMS
Now hold on, while tantrums can be very crippling and and a very unenjoyable affair for parents and the toddler it boasts some benefits for toddlers. Going through these breakdowns could help your toddlers make it through the earlier years easier.
Firstly, having tantrums helps toddlers feel and process big emotions such as frustration, anger, sadness, fear and gives a child perspective. Plus, working through their emotions with our support lets them know that they’re normal feelings to be had. Secondly, this can help with your child’s self-awareness. Toddlers may know what they want, but they haven’t the skill of expressing it and this may be frustrating for them. Slowly providing them with the tools such as naming feelings will go a long way with helping your child express themselves. Thirdly, it builds self-confidence in toddlers. They start understanding that they’re different and separate from their parents. They begin developing their own autonomy and start asserting themselves by saying “No!” Next, it builds a bond between toddler and parents. While tantrums aren’t fun for the entire family, it’s important to always support and provide a safe space for them. Lastly, it helps them become reflective. Going through a tantrum with your toddler gives parents a chance to discuss their feelings, responses and different reactions. This can help them get in touch with their emotions from a rational standpoint and to reflect on how they’ve felt and behaved.
Tantrum Prevention Tactics
Instead of having to stop a temper tantrum after it starts, prevent it by following these tips as provided by the parenting guide on WebMD:
• Avoid situations in which tantrums are likely to erupt. Try to keep your daily routines as consistent as possible and give your toddler a five-minute warning before changing activities.
• Communicate with your toddler. Don’t underestimate his ability to understand what you are saying. Tell him the plan for the day and stick to your routine to minimize surprises.
• Make sure your child is well rested and fed before you go out so he doesn’t blow up at the slightest provocation.
• Give your toddler a little bit of control. Let your child choose which book to bring in the car or whether she wants grilled cheese or peanut butter and jelly for lunch. These little choices won’t make much of a difference to you, but they’ll make your child feel as though she has at least some control over her own life.
• Pick your battles. Sometimes you can give in a little, especially when it comes to small things. Would you rather let your child watch 15 extra minutes of television or listen to her scream for 30 minutes?
Written by Eve Bandusena, Parents Avenue’s Editorial Assistant