Now!, No!, Mine! The simple signs that forecast a storm might just be brewing. From an adult perspective, the life of an infant or toddler may seem easy.
Your meals are prepared for you and often spoon fed to you. Your clothes, diapers and other hygiene needs are all met with very little effort on your part; you don’t even have to hold still.
Why then is this utopian existence so often shattered by terrible screaming, raging fits, also known as the dreaded tantrum? The bid for independence; as children age, they want to be more and more independent.
Tantrums are not appropriate behavior for your child. While they can be expected in the toddler stage, by the time your child reaches preschool age they should know better than to throw a tantrum to try to get what they want. Fortunately, we have tips here for you to help you address this issue properly.
- Help your child learn to deal with their emotions in a healthy way.
- Teach your child how to communicate their feelings in a polite, respectful manner. They should ask for things rather than demand them.
- If necessary, discipline your child by taking away privileges.
How to Deal With Tantrums
Step back and deal with the tantrum objectively.
The bid for independence begins around 18 months, with a child often wanting to buckle the car seat or do other routine tasks themselves.
As your child grows, you can expect them to take more and more interest in doing a wide variety of things on their own. The next time your child asserts themselves and asks to complete a task on their own, step aside and let them try.
To lessen your frustration, it is a good idea to allow more time for daily routines like dressing, getting into the car seat and eating as your child learns to master these tasks. If your child demands to do something rather than asks, refuse to let them do the task until they ask politely and appropriately. Just because your child is ready to have some independence doesn't mean they need to be mean about it.
Too much emotion, must explode
There is nothing more fun than a happy child; unfortunately, their emotional range does not end there.
Children feel the whole gamut of emotion, from fear and frustration to anger and loneliness. The only difference is they haven’t had the benefit of time and experience to teach them how to express themselves properly. An overly emotional baby will find solace in a pacifier.
What happens to the toddler or 5-year old who no longer has a pacifier?
How do they express and cope with their emotions?
Positive, happy feelings are no problem; they laugh, hug or play just like we do. The more negative emotions, however often end up exploding out at the most inconvenient times. If your child is having a tantrum because of a stressful environment, try to remove them from that situation. Help them understand how to respond to their emotions in a healthy way, especially as they get to be school-aged.
Okay, let’s take a breather
Prompting a child to slow down and use their words will help. Sometimes even older children just don’t know how to express what they are feeling.
Listen with a sympathetic ear and then give your child tools that will teach them how to express their feelings in a more productive manner.
For younger children, providing them with a few simple lines like “Please don’t take my toy” or “It makes me sad when you say no” can help. Older children who have the verbal skills, yet still choose the tantrum route, may need a breather.
When the tantrum starts, intervene. Let your child know that banging their fists on an object, ripping something up, yelling, or whatever else they are doing isn't appropriate behavior. Ask them what's upsetting them, and take their experiences seriously. Teach your child that talking, rather than yelling and acting out, will get them further in life.
Discipline your child if needed
Sometimes, children try to throw tantrums because they think it will get them what they want. Whether it's a new toy, five more minutes watching T.V., or permission to go over to a friend's house, a tantrum is sometimes a child's tactic to get you to say yes. When this occurs, stand your ground. Make sure your child understands that acting out will not get you to change their mind.
If their tantrum continues or worsens, or if they develop a pattern of tantrum-throwing, discipline them appropriately. Take away privileges, such as the ability to watch T.V. or play with certain toys, for a length of time. While toddlers will have a harder time understanding why tantrums are inappropriate, school-aged kids are plenty old enough to be taught that their behavior isn't acceptable.
It's important that you get tantrums under control before your child gets too far into school. Teachers and other students alike will not have patience for your child's tantrums, especially if they cause disruption to the learning process or damage to property. In severe cases, your child may face disciplinary action from their school for tantrums.
Hang in there! This tantrum too shall pass.