Toddler tantrums can be frustrating for parents, especially if they happen in public. Let’s have a look at reasons behind temper tantrums and how to deal with them so that your children won’t keep throwing tantrums again and again.
A temper tantrum is an intense storm of emotions, such as anger, loss, disappointment and deep frustration. In toddlers, this emotional outbreak can lead to crying, thrashing, screaming fits, stomping, hitting the parents, falling, kicking, biting, throwing things, banging the head or breath holding. Young children usually start having temper tantrum around two years old. This toddlerhood period is often called the Terrible Twos.
Toddler temper tantrums are natural behavior. These emotional toddler meltdowns result from unmet needs or desires. They are more likely to appear in toddlers because that’s when they start to learn that they’re separated from their parents and want to seek independence, and yet they cannot. It is important to understand thought that a tantrum-throwing toddler is not a spoiled brat. Toddlers have a strong desire to explore the world, go everywhere and touch everything. They have just discovered how to use tools, but they don’t have the motor skills fine-tuned enough to get the results they want.
Now, let’s consider the strategies for parents while experiencing tantrum. During the tantrum: Instead of trying to stop the tantrum or quiet the screaming, focus on going through the wave of emotion with your child.
- Stay calm: Big emotions can be scary for a small child. When you are calm, your child feels safe. Focus on keeping your own emotions calm by doing deep breathing or repeating a mantra (“he needs my help right now” or “this is not an emergency”).
- Set limits: Children need to know the boundaries and limits. They feel secure knowing that these will remain consistent. Lecturing or reasoning will not work with toddlers. Instead, use short phrases to set limits, “Hitting hurts” or “Hold hands in the parking lot!”
- Be empathetic: Begin teaching emotional intelligence by using empathy when your child is upset. Try to see things from your child’s perspective, then put their feelings into words using simple phrases, “You’re so mad!” or “You seem sad!”
- Provide comfort: Stay present while your child is struggling. Get on their level – squatting down to eye level or just sitting nearby. Offer to cuddle or hold your child. If your child does not want to cuddle, offer comforting words: “I’m here, you’re safe with mommy.”
- Skip timeouts: Skip timeouts (and other forms of punishment) for toddlers. They are simply not effective.
After the emotional period has passed, it is possible to have a calm discussion with your child about what happened. If your kid is old enough, talk about what preceded the outburst. Did something make him mad? Did something frustrate him? Did he feel sad? Did he feel disappointed?
Can your child describe what he was feeling during the tantrum or meltdown? Be sure to talk about how you felt. Tell him that it made you sad to see him feeling so bad. Say that even though his feelings were scary to him, they were not to you. Relay that you were glad to be there for him.