We have all been there. One minute, your toddler is completely fine, and the next, they are on the ground kicking and screaming and crying for the smallest of reasons. It’s frustrating, it’s agonizing, it’s exhausting, and it just doesn’t stop.
If you can relate to this, it means your toddler throws a mean temper tantrum. But don’t be alarmed, because it doesn’t mean you are raising a tyrant; you simply have to understand the proper way to deal with the situation. And this begins with understanding why your toddler throws temper tantrums.
Temper tantrums are a way for your toddler to express feelings of frustration, distress, and disappointment. They are especially common in children who are around 2-3 years old because they are in the process of developing language skills. Since toddlers can’t say what they want, feel or need, they become frustrated and throw a tantrum.
Soon your toddler will leave the temper tantrum stage as their language skills develop. But until then, here are some helpful ways to deal with these ferocious tantrums and keep your sanity intact!
Keep Your Cool
A toddler temper tantrum is utter pandemonium. Temper tantrum traits can include crying, screaming, kicking, throwing things, hitting, pounding the floor and even breath-holding! While your toddler is losing all cool, it’s important for you to make sure you’re not. Remember that they will probably react even more negatively if you resort to scolding, shouting, threatening, or leaving the room.
What to do: The best thing to do is to calmly sit and stay with your toddler, ignore the tantrum, or pick up and hold them if possible. Experts advise that you give your toddler a big, firm and reassuring hug without saying a word. Oftentimes when toddlers throw temper tantrums, they are feeling unsafe and unheard. A hug will make your screaming and crying toddler feel secure and it will let them know that you care about them.
Don’t Give In
The worst thing you can do give in your toddler’s unreasonable demands when they are throwing a temper tantrum to get what they want. It is tempting to end the tantrum by caving in to your toddler’s demands, especially in public. But this way, your toddler learns that throwing tantrums is the only way to get what they want. Remember, that your toddler is already feeling out of control, so it is important for you to stay in control of the situation rather than negotiating or giving in.
What to do: You can create a diversion for your toddler and get him/her interested in something new. This is especially helpful when you are out and about in public, as there are a number of stimulating activities and sights in the surroundings to engage your toddler in so that they forget their temper tantrum. Enthusiastically say something like, “Hey, look at these pretty fish!” or “You want to help me pick an ice cream flavour?” Toddlers have short attention spans, which means they are easy to distract.
Talk it Over
Once your toddler calms down after a temper tantrum, hold him/her close to you and talk about what happened. Help your toddler find words for their feelings and explain to them what they were feeling which cause them to throw a tantrum. Show your toddler that once they express feelings in words rather than tantrums, it is easier to get what they desire. Tell your toddler that now that they are not screaming and crying, you understand what they want. You can also talk to your toddler about this before you enter a situation which you have recognized to be particularly frustrating or stressful for him/her.
What to do: There are certain situations which can be particularly trying for your toddler. For instance, some toddlers are bound to throw a tantrum if they are made to sit for a long time at a restaurant or church. Before such expected situations arise, you can offer your toddler a pre-emptive incentive to encourage their good behaviour. You can say, “If you sit and have your dinner nicely, you can have ice cream afterwards. I know you can do it!” However it is extremely important that you not try this tactic in the middle of a tantrum; only beforehand, or after a tantrum has completely subsided and you are speaking to your toddler calmly.
Say No to Saying No
When toddlers hear the word “no” over and over again, they are prone to ignoring it, or becoming resentful or even rebellious. Often, toddlers throw tantrums just because they hear the word no repeatedly and become frustrated. You can use short, clear and concise phrases instead of saying no to stop your toddler from doing something. This will improve communication between parent and toddler, and help your toddler understand why they shouldn’t do something rather than just feeling frustrated and upset.
What to do:
Rather than repeatedly saying the words “no!” or “don’t!” or “stop!” you must communicate what you want in other words. Instead of saying, “No you can’t eat ice cream!” try saying something along the lines of, “I know you love ice cream, but too much will make you sick. We will eat more later.” Instead of saying, “Don’t hit your sister!” try saying “We use our words, not our hands. Your sister loves you, be gentle with her.”
Now that you know the quick ways to deal with your toddler’s terrible tantrums, we are confident that you will be able to take control of the situation next time.