How To Deal With Toddler Temper Tantrums
Jackie G. Maxwell
It's one of the few things your child can do that will make your cringe. A high-pitched, eardrum shattering, teeth grinding scream that goes on and on and on. Sometimes to the accompaniment of heels beating on the floor, or fists on the wall. You may have to duck as the toys start flying, because your toddler is having a temper tantrum.
The reasons for having temper tantrums, are relatively simple. Remember, at the age of 1-3, when most children will throw tantrums, their world is fairly straightforward, as is their way of ordering it, and putting things in their place.
Children have tantrums because they are tired, frustrated, seeking attention, or possibly because they are coming down with something, or they are trying to gain control over their daily activities.
Naturally, a parent can't always be available when their toddler wants to be picked up, played with, or part of what you are doing. And for the very young, explanations that “Mommy is busy”, just aren't going to be enough. What you can do though, is offer them an alternative, such as “Mommy is busy right now, would you like to draw some pictures for a while?”
It also helps if you learn to avoid fatigue tantrums, by recognizing the signs of a tired child. If you are unable to get them to a nap or a quiet time where they may fall asleep, give them a special toy or game that you keep for occasions when a distraction can come in handy. Chances are, they will fall asleep while looking at it.
The toddler stage is one where children begin to acquire a sense of “self”, and that they are individuals separate from their mother and father. But they still have limited ways of expressing their need to be in control of “me”, so they demand, or nag. When denied whatever it is they seek, their frustration can lead to a tantrum that is either rooted in the inability to get their meaning across, or because they see no reason they shouldn't get what they demand. One way of encouraging good behavior as your child's independence asserts itself, is to involve them in decision making, or independent tasks, like making their bed. Offer them simple choices, such as an apple or an orange, and let them learn that they have the “power” to decide some things. At the same time, you must be firm and consistent about behavior that is not acceptable, such as demanding and throwing tantrums.
When your child throws a tantrum, the best course may be to ignore it, but not to leave the child alone. In their very simple way of thinking, that can be interpreted as abandonment. If the tantrum involves behavior that is harmful, or extremely disruptive (such as in a grocery store), your best course is to take them to a quiet place for a time-out, or to hold them firmly until they have calmed down.
Sometimes the tantrum can be caused by multiple issues of being tired, and the tower of blocks falling over, then Mommy refusing to help build it again. That can lead to a more intense exhibition of temper. The key to successfully managing toddler tantrums, is not to lose your own temper in the process. Remain cool and calm. If you can't, put the child in their time out spot and move out of reach, until the worst of the storm has passed.
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