Surviving the Temper Tantrum
Temper tantrums are traumatizing for you and your child. Ask any person who has been a parent, and they can tell you war stories of the tantrum in the middle of the supermarket. Everyone is looking at you as your child screams and throws themselves to the floor. You want to do something, but what can you do?
Tantrums are very common in kids from the ages of 1 to 4 years old. Everyone has heard of the terrible twos, and most parents have experienced them. The tantrums may be caused by being denied something or frustration. They are common when a small child feels like they can’t do something or can’t express themselves. Some kids are more prone to tantrums just based on a more intense personality.
If your child starts to have a tantrum, here are a few dos and don’ts.
Keep your temper under control. You need to be the adult and stay calm. If you can remain in control, you are better able to diffuse the situation.
Ignore it if possible. A tantrum might be a way to get attention. If you give in to your child’s demands, you are teaching him that tantrums work. The last thing you want to do is make this behavior more commonplace.
Distract your child if you can. Toddlers have a very short attention span. If you see a tantrum beginning, suggest a walk or reading a book. You can also try a funny face or silly joke. A little levity can help diffuse many a situation.
If your child is out of control (hitting, kicking) or very inconsolable, wrap them up in a hug and speak to them softly. There are times when a tantrum gets out of the child’s control as well.
Time outs can sometimes give the child space to get themselves under control. Remember that time outs should last a minute for each year of age (i.e.: a two minute time out for a two year old child).
Respond in anger or with violence. Temper tantrums are very frustrating for a parent, but losing your cool won’t make them go away. If you lose your temper and yell or resort to spanking, you are teaching your child that losing control is okay. Your toddler is also getting attention. For a kid, even bad attention is good attention. This can make tantrums more likely to occur. Your child is learning more from what you do than what you say.
Never, ever give in to the demands of a child who is throwing a tantrum. If your little bundle of joy is pitching a fit because you said no to a candy bar, do not give them the candy bar. Giving in teaches them this is the best method to get their way.
The best way to deal with a tantrum is to stop it before it begins. By knowing your child’s personality and those things that are most frustrating for them, you can avoid many tantrums.
Children are creatures of habit. They like consistency. It makes the world easier to understand. If you are unable to keep to the normal daily schedule, give your child plenty of warning. When you give your child a ten and then five minute warning before they will have to start getting ready to leave, you can give them time to adjust to this change. Talk to your toddler in short two or three word phrases which are easier for them to understand instead of longer sentences. Tell them what you plan to do that day and then try and stick to that plan.
Prior to heading out the door to get those errands done, let your child pick a small toy or a snack to take with them. This can provide a distraction during that boring car time. You can also keep small toys in the car or your purse which are only for those times when you are out and about. This can make errand time a fun time for your toddler instead of a chore.
Remember to plan your outings for times when your child has had a nap and a meal or snack. Being tired or hungry can lead to tantrums. The same goes for parents.
Tantrums can stem from a toddler’s determination to be independent. Give your child a chance to make some decisions during the day. By giving them two choices for lunch or the choice of what book to read, they will feel empowered and may be less likely to feel frustrated.
Finally, before you say No to something, stop and think. Is this the battle you want to fight? Can you say yes to that extra 10 minutes of TV time and save everyone a half hour of frustration? By picking your battles, you and your toddler can have a much more pleasant day.