The age between 1 to 3 years is an interesting age for your child. The toddler is just beginning to gradually develop social and emotional skills. Also, their verbal skills are in the process of steadily improving. This is also the age where your toddler is asserting his/her personality, trying out their independence, being defiant about getting their own way, imitating adult behavior, even recognizing themselves in the mirror. An inquisitive age where your toddler is exploring the world around, expressing themselves by forming simple sentences or phrases and learning to follow basic instructions.
Ironically, this is also the age when your toddler is prone to temper tantrums which include bouts of screaming, crying, kicking and falling down, stiffening their limbs when an adult tries to pick them up, holding their breath, vomiting, throwing things or breaking them and displaying aggressive, non-cooperative conduct all round.
So why do toddlers throw tantrums? What makes normal, healthy children inclined to anger, frustration and bad behavior? The reasons may range from simply being hungry, sleepy and tired to more complex reasons such as their way of asserting their independence or the inability of the toddler to express their feelings or a way to understand and change their environment.
Dealing with temper tantrums of a toddler can try the patience of the most even tempered parent too. The idea to overcome your toddler’s tantrums is to try and not have your temper frayed. But it is easier said than done. So here are some helpful parenting tips on how to handle your toddler’s tantrums.
When a temper tantrum hits your toddler, especially in a public place, trying to calm them down can test your patience severely. It is understandable that as a parent you might feel embarrassed by your child’s out of control behavior in a public setting. But getting your child to cool down is more important than any irritated looks that you might get from other people. And frankly, you are not the only one; most parents go through this experience. So, try and avoid having a meltdown yourself. If your child sees you react in a rational, calm manner it will have a more positive impact in reducing their anger.
Kids, especially toddlers, have a short attention span. So if your toddler is being difficult, first try and distract the child with some toys, some yummy snacks, even a flying bird or speeding cars. Just try and switch the child’s attention on to something else and get them engaged in a different activity that will make them forget the tantrum that they were throwing.
A toddler’s favourite way to express his displeasure is to throw the things that they can get their hands on. If you are in the house, try and remove those objects that your child can reach and throw. It may help in reducing the struggle and the child will likely forget about throwing things and calm down if nothing is easily at hand.
At times a temper tantrum is also just a way to garner a parent’s attention on the part of the child. Recognize the child’s need to feel secure behind the outburst and give them enough attention. Sometimes all it takes to soothe your child’s ruffled feelings is a simple hug. Children react more positively to genuine affection than to strict discipline.
The louder the toddler yells the softer your response should be. Avoid getting into a screaming match with your child; it won’t solve the problem and all you will get out of it is a severe headache and a still badly behaving child. Instead, your soft, soothing tone will take the edge off the frustration and anger the child feels and make them more apt to respond with positive behavior.
A child aged 1 to 3 feels a lot of emotions but does not have enough tools, neither verbal nor emotional, to express their feelings. So the only way that a child knows how to vent those feelings is by throwing a tantrum. As a parent, try to get a handle on the real reason for that display of bad behavior. If you can sort out the real issue troubling your toddler, chances are you will get them to calm down quickly.
One of the most common triggers for a toddler’s tantrums is hunger, tiredness and lack of sleep. Even adults get irritable due to hunger and less sleep; it is natural that a small child who needs more sleep and food at regular intervals than grownups and who is unable to effectively communicate their needs, will be cranky. Make sure that the child’s nap times and feeding times are adhered to avoid these flare-ups.
Sometimes getting out of the room or a place where your toddler is throwing a tantrum is a great way to get them to snap out of it. If they are upset about not getting a toy or a chocolate, removing them from that store will take the visuals of those items away and help calm them down. In your own home, if the child is upset about a particular thing, just pick them up and take them to a balcony or kitchen that will divert their attention from the problem to other more interesting things.
As your toddler is still very much exploring his/her options, getting them involved in new things will widen their scope of interests and get them away from expressing themselves only through tantrums. Help them to learn new skills, it can be as simple as throwing a ball correctly or building blocks in the proper sequence etc. Don’t forget to appreciate their efforts; that will foster a sense of achievement and give the child the self-confidence to try out newer and more challenging tasks.
Even a small child responds to authority, but that discipline has to be implemented in a reasonable manner. Make your child understand that following basic discipline rules and good behavior will be rewarded (this should not be bribing but more of an incentive to your child to be well behaved). As a parent, while making those rules, don’t expect instant results. Remember, that your child is still small and any behavioral change will happen gradually and with patience.
So, the next time your toddler throws a tantrum, keep in mind that it is not a reflection on your parenting skills and that it is a part of growing up. It is not important how many tantrums your child has, what is important is how you respond to the problem.
Parenting is a constant, on-going process where you make mistakes, learn from them and move forward. Want to know some healthy tips for children, especially when they are throwing tantrums? A little patience, common sense, love and affection on your part is mostly all that is needed to calm your child down because, after all, nobody else knows your child like you do. Happy parenting!