Temper tantrums are common in toddlers between 1 – 3 years old. Their social and emotional skills are still developing or have only begun developing during this stage, so they don’t really know how to properly express and communicate heavy emotions. They pour it out by crying, kicking, screaming, breaking things, or flailing. They can get really aggressive and uncontrollable most especially when they ‘lose it. Temper tantrums in toddlers are here to explain why all children will behave like this during this stage and be patient about it. One day, it shall pass.
Since our kids are still learning and still at the phase of discovering things about them and their surroundings, how people behave around them greatly influences how they behave as well. Tantrums usually last between 2 to 15 minutes and violent tantrums last longer and could be a sign of a more serious problem.
But why do tantrums happen?
Toddlers usually have a vocabulary of fewer than 100 words and communication is limited. Yet, they have all these thoughts and need to be understood. When you do not understand what they want, they will freak out to release their anger. Here are the common scenarios.
- Your little one might be in an uncomfortable situation.
- They could be upset or frustrated over an event that they could not control.
- If they are stress, hungry, and extremely tired, it’s harder for our kids to manage their emotions and behavior.
- They are overwhelmed by a feeling that they do not know how to express properly. It could be worry, fear, shame or anger.
But learning the reason why our kid is having a temper tantrum or assessing what generated the tantrum will help us manage it. Health professionals call this a “Functional Assessment”. It is important to understand and acknowledge how our kids feel and think of tantrum as their way of reacting to a certain situation.
Temper tantrums in toddlers
Whenever our kids throw tantrums, we, parents and guardians, also need to be mentally and emotionally prepared before responding to them. Toddlers outburst tantrums is hard to accept regardless if it happens when you are alone with the child or in the public. Despite having a meltdown yourself, we will help you to learn how to cope with it. We will share with you these 5 simple strategies that really work to make sure everything is under control.
5 Strategies to deal with temper tantrums in toddlers
Just Stay Calm
The key is to remain calm. Despite wanting to scream in frustration, bear in mind that we are supposed to be more rational in handling this situation. But this is much easier said than done. Experts insists you to remain cool during child’s tantrums to prevent the whole thing escalate or beyond control.
Just keep in mind that part of the reasons of kids tantrums is to get attention and insist, no matter how, to get what they want. If you lose your control or temper, it will only make the situation harder to manage since you and your child are both irritated and frustrated. Sometimes, ignore your little one and pretend to be busy with other chores will make you stay calm and avoid raising your voice unnecessary. Talking in a calm tone will also prevent things from getting out of hand.
Despite our best efforts, some tantrums are hard to avoid and divert, so accept that we cannot control our child’s emotions or behaviors most of the time. Take a deep breath and accept that changes don’t happen overnight. Self-regulation takes a long time, sometimes, it could last a whole lifetime, to learn. Be extra patient.
Get away from the scene
Toddlers have a very short attention span. Get him out of the distressing place may cool him down. This is particularly when you are out of the house with your child at a public place where he insists to get the thing that he wants. Pick him up and leave the place and divert his attention to something else with a soft voice will help him cool down.
Do not give in to what they want, instead use it as an incentive for them to calm down. For example, tell them that if they are good for the rest of the day they can have a cone of ice cream or a new toy.
It might be time for a nap or snack
Being overtired and hungry are the biggest tantrums triggers. If the little one happen to yawn and keep rubbing eyes, it might be time to have a nap. If the meltdown happen at the same time everyday, offer him a snack slightly earlier or prep him a nap will help to prevent the tantrums. Know what triggers your kid’s tantrum will help to prevent it from happening again.
Leave it be
Experts say sometimes, it is good to let your child express him anger under a control situation. So we should just let him express his anger out. Just be sure, he is in a safe environment, there is nothing dangerous which can harm him. The child is able to learn how to vent in a non-destructive way, gaining self control without shouting and battling with parents.
Empathize with your kids
Acknowledge how your kids feel so they would know that their emotions are valid. Listen to them, let them pour their heart out, and explain the situation. Hug them! They may not in a mood to hug, that’s ok. Get them a firm hug and tell them they are still loved no matter what. It may take a while to pacify their anger, but eventually, it would subside.
Never hit or smack them. Since they are in the process of adapting and copying adults’ behavior, they might think that it’s okay to hurt others as well. We can discipline our kids without punishing them physically.
It can be very draining, but eventually, our kids will learn that they have to change their behavior and that tantrums should not happen regularly. Using the “energy/time drain” tactic can also be helpful when handling a meltdown because this makes them think about their actions. Once the kids have calmed down, teach them to make amends. If they broke someone’s toy, encourage them to help fix it or if they made someone cry, then tell them to apologize. If they made a mess, get them clean it up. These two tactics give our kids a sense of responsibility.
If you didn’t lose your cool and you’ve remained calm, give yourself a pat on the back as well. But do not be so hard on yourself. Not being able to handle a tantrum well doesn’t make you a bad parent. You and child are still in the process of learning and adapting to different situations.