4 Ways to Manage Your Toddler’s Temper Tantrums.
Temper tantrums are a child’s way to express frustration or anger if something did not go their way. Anger and frustration are often called “big emotions”, meaning they are too much to handle for a toddler.
They are generally expressive during this age since they have just started learning language. Sometimes, when an emotion becomes overwhelming, toddlers are unable to figure out a way to channelise them appropriately. A lot of emotions like discontentment, losing patience, anger and frustration are all expressed in the same manner by them, that is throwing a tantrum. They usually get immediate attention in this case and parents quickly give in to avoid the embarrassment or “drama”. This reinforces their behaviour, and they assume that the only way to get things done is by crying, sulking, or yelling.
However, the important thing here is to help a child understand that emotion he/she is experiencing. They need to be guided towards reasoning the situation, and appropriate emotional expression, without the use of authority or force.
Here are a few tips.
Be consistent with the child’s routine. Let them know the appropriate time for everything. Play, study, meals and sleeping should be planned, and the child should know what is to be done at any hour of the day. Planning reduces uncertainty and the child calmly accepts what is supposed to be done once it is made a part of the routine. When you say “it is time for sleep or a bath” they are less likely to throw a tantrum to get out of it because they are aware that it is mandatory. Establishing a routine might take a while initially, but once they get used to it, they are very less likely to overreact.
Give your child some choices. For example, when you want to take them to bed, give them a choice by saying, “do you want to walk, or should I carry you?”. This gives them a sense of control and does not give them any scope to refuse. Limiting their options but still providing them with options is the key here. Some sense of control will make them feel in-charge of what they want to do.
Use positive reinforcement. Appreciate good behaviour by hugs, kisses, or verbal praise. Tell them that you are happy and proud of what they did. Children respond positively to love and appreciation. Saying “good job!”, “I am proud of you” and “thankyou for doing this” will give them the message that some particular behaviour is desired from them and they will get praised if they do so. Obvious ways of expressing positive reinforcement helps them differenciate between right and wrong behaviour. This will make things easier for you as a parent too!
Make sure to never let your child feel ignored when he/she is upset. Don’t allow them to sulk alone. Give them extra attention and try to listen when they are trying to express. Leaving the room or asking them to go to their room just promotes supressing emotions and gives the wrong message. Children are often left alone when they express an emotion they don’t know how to deal with. Tantrums are the result of their inability to express these “big emotions”. Making them talk, expressing what their feeling and reasoning with them is the best way to deal with tantrums.
Understand that a temper tantrum is not the child’s way to misbehave. It is just their lack of understanding of appropriate expression of an emotion. Getting angry, hitting them, or using threats to control this behaviour will only increase their resentment towards you. Patience is the key! Be consistent with it and you will notice significant changes in your child’s behaviour.
It is common for us as adults to misunderstand children but we must not forget that they will ultimately replicate our behaviour. If we use yelling, threatening or hitting as a way to express our dissatisfaction or anger, they might do the same in the future. Teaching them the healthy way to express their emotions is exactly what they need at this age.