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All about temper tantrums

Temper

You are busy shopping at the supermarket and suddenly you hear an ear-piercing shriek. Upon turning around you see a little girl wailing to buy the Frozen toy while the mother (tries to) ignore the embarrassing behavior.


For a parent this is not a new scenario. In fact, ask anyone and they are likely to agree that handling a toddler’s tantrum is one of the most challenging parts of parenthood. Toddler tantrums are common, especially in children between the ages of 1 and 4 when they are still learning to communicate properly.  It is estimated that more than half of young children will have one or more tantrums a week to vent their frustrations and inability to control emotions.


Of course, as common as they may be, toddler tantrums can be distressing and embarrassing to the parents, especially when they occur frequently.


Why do kids have tantrums?
Temper tantrums can take a variety of forms from crying and whining to screaming, hitting, kicking, and even breath holding. Tantrums usually happen when kids are hungry, tired, uncomfortable or can’t get something (either a person or an object) that they want. It’s children’s way of showing they are frustrated or upset. Over time, children’s language skills improve and thus the frequency of tantrums decrease. But until they are able to communicate their desires or problems, parents must deal with the tantrums.


So what’s the best way  to handle tantrums?
Do everything you can to avoid tantrums in the first place. Here are some tips that may help:
Give your child plenty of positive interaction throughout the day. Sometimes kids act up when they want more attention from their parents. Praising them for good behavior and spending time with them will reduce the occurrence of tantrums.

  • Give them choices over little things. For example, “Do you want apple juice or orange?” or “Do you want to take a bath now or after dinner?” This empowers children and gives them a voice.
    Keep off-limit or hazardous objects out of children’s reach to avoid struggles. Obviously, this may not be possible outside the home, but try to avoid areas that trigger your child’s tantrums.  
    Distract your child during the tantrum phase by offering them something else in place of what they can’t have. Start a new activity or simply change the environment.
  • Consider your child’s request carefully and avoid the abrupt “no”. Maybe their demands are not so outrageous
    Keep your child’s limits in mind and avoid activities like shopping during their naptimes or snack time..


Most importantly, keep your cool during the tantrum and avoid screaming to let out your own frustration. Remember, your job is to teach children how to stay calm and it will do no good if you are not calm yourself. Hitting and spanking doesn’t help. It will show children that using force and physical punishment is acceptable and can result in negative behavior in the future.
And of course, don’t give in to your child’s tantrums. This will only prove to them that their tactics were effective and can be used again and again.

When to call the doctor
It is best to consult a doctor if the tantrums become frequent, intense, or haven’t stopped by the age of 4 years. It is also advised to call your healthcare provider if the child is in danger of hurting him or herself or others.

The good news is most toddler tantrums are not a cause of worry and usually stop as children mature and learn to communicate. Until then, try your best to handle the tantrums in the most positive way possible.

September 4th, 2017

Posted In: Tips

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