How To Handle Temper Tantrums

January 08, 2016

Little children can create big scenes. No matter how sweet they are or how good a parent you are tantrums are a fact of a child’s life. So try to remember that your child’s tantrums aren’t a reflection of your parenting skills: They simply mean you’ve got a frustrated little person on your hands. Here’s how to handle them without losing your cool.

What causes tantrums?

It may seem like your child’s having a tantrum for no reason (or for a silly one). But there are real causes:
Toddlers can’t express themselves very well. Your 2- or 3-year-old may know a lot of words, but he / she doesn’t yet have the ability to construct complex sentences, or put words to all the emotions he’s feeling. That’s why instead of saying, “Mum, I’d really like orange juice with my toast, but only in the red cup because it looks weird in the blue one,” he screams the house down when you give him apple juice.
Children thrive on routine, and a change can really throw them. That means that adding in an extra errand or missing naptime by even 15 minutes can spell disaster. Certain places, like busy stores, can be overwhelming, too.
They want to do more than they can handle. Children are naturally very curious and are thrilled to discover they can suddenly do so many things on their own. Unfortunately, your child’s physical prowess doesn’t keep pace with his curiosity, so he gets frustrated when the block tower falls or he’s not allowed to climb the kitchen stool.
They don’t understand delayed gratification. Little children live in the here and now, not in our cookies-are-for-after-dinner world. Not getting what they want, when they want it, is a top tantrum producer.
They think they’re the center of the universe. In the me-me-me life of a child, no one else’s needs matter as much as theirs. That’s why sharing toys can sometimes be very difficult.

Defusing tantrums

Acknowledge that they are frustrated. Your best first defense is to look your child in the eye and let her know you understand. By saying “I know you want a biscuit,” or even just “I know you’re upset,” you’re telling them you’re there to help them feel better. That might be enough to calm them down so you can add, “I wish we could have biscuits, too. It’s a pity we can’t right now.”

Be silly

Laughter can be a great tantrum buster. If your child starts to pitch a fit about getting into the bath, try singing a goofy song or anything to make him giggle.

Try a distraction

Give them something else to think about. Try saying, “Let’s finish shopping by picking out bananas together.” Or if it’s time to leave the park, but they don’t want to try saying, “How many dogs do you think we’ll see on the drive home?”

Ignore it

Sometimes, tantrums escalate because your child thinks she’ll get what she wants if she screams loud enough. If you don’t react, she may give up.

Leave the scene

When all else fails walk away or leave the room. Do it without making a fuss, you’ll be modeling calm behaviour. It may be inconvenient, but it shows who’s in control: you.

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