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.
The constant request from an 18-24 month old of ‘I do it!’ can make many daily tasks take longer. Don’t be tempted to step in and do it yourself.
This growth is good for you and your child. If mom and dad are overly helpful when your child doesn’t want help, the ensuing frustration may just land you in the middle of a class 5 tantrum.
Step back and deal with the tantrum objectively.
No one likes a butinsky either, but as adults we handle the situation with less screaming and fist beating. The bid for independence begins around 18 months with the child wanting to buckle the car seat or other routine tasks themselves.
As your child grows you can expect him 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.
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.
OK, 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.
Let them beat their fists on their pillow, stomp their feet or rip paper to vent. Once they are calm you can talk it out, but you can’t do anything during the explosion of the ‘shaken-soda moment’. Empowering your child to express their frustrations in a healthy way will serve them well into adulthood. Your patience and consistency will pay off with fewer and fewer outburst as your child grows and develops.
Hang in there! This tantrum…too shall pass.
You might also find the following helpful:
Age-Appropriate Manners and Lessons
Parent's Survival Guide to Puberty
Bullying in Schools
Giving More Attention
Cleaning Their Rooms