03 Feb How to Deal with Temper Tantrums
“At the root of every tantrum and power struggle are unmet needs.”
-Marshall B. Rosenburg
You often ask yourself, “how to deal with temper tantrums“ especially when your kids reach the young age of two.
This age is not called the “terrible twos” for nothing. And many parents can be seen panicking or losing their patience when children turn from adorable little angels into crabby rascals with uncontrollable outbursts, especially when they do it in public.
However, you don’t need to react negatively when children have these episodes. Although it can get pretty bad and can drive you to the ends of your limit, it is during these times that children need our understanding and support more than even.
So, think of it as a time of learning for your child and not the disaster that others see it.
And try to always keep in mind that tantrums are a normal part of growing up.
What are Temper Tantrums?
Tantrums come in small and big doses.
According to Medline Plus, temper tantrums are unpleasant or disruptive behaviors or emotional outbursts. These usually begin in children who are 12 to 18 months old. Then, tantrums get worse when they turn 2 or 3 years old, thus the term “terrible twos”. Episodes of these lessen until the age of 4, and rarely occur when they get past this age.
Temper tantrums can happen in different ways and at different times. Some children are often seen as being disruptive when they are having tantrums. And it can be described as explosive outbursts of anger or frustration, and disorganized behavior.
These are some of the most common behavior seen in children having tantrums:
- Stiffening of the limbs
- Arching of the back
- Falling down
- Flailing about
- Running away
But when it turns to worst, children can even turn aggressive and hit others or break things. Some are even known to hold their breath and vomit.
Why Do Children Have Temper Tantrums?
With all the negative things a child can do during a tantrum, it would be great to hold it off or completely avoid it when possible. But it is also best to help children learn how to manage it.
But why do tantrums happen?
- Children do not Know how to Express their Feelings. As stated above, tantrums are very common during the toddler years. And one key reason for this is because children are unable to understand and express their emotions yet. Their social and emotional skills are just starting to develop and they can easily get overwhelmed with big emotions.
- They Want to Take Control. Children, at ages 1-3, are developing their motor skills, as well as their cognitive abilities. Thus, they can be testing their independence. And this desire for control can be expressed as saying “no” most of the time. They are also just discovering that their actions and behavior can influence other people.
- Tantrums are a Result of Needs or Wants That are not Met. Since language skills are only just developing, children lack the vocabulary to express their needs and desires. Thus, these go unmet. And kids get frustrated or upset, which then leads to them breaking down into a tantrum.
More specifically, there are some factors that can influence a child’s behavior and lead to tantrums. These include the following:
- Strong emotions such as anger, fear and shame
- Stressful situations that a child can’t cope with
- Hunger, thirst, sleepiness and over-stimulation
- Personality, for instance, a child who is easily upset is more prone to having tantrums
In a nutshell:
Tantrums are children’s ways of expressing and managing their feelings.
It is through tantrums that they try to understand what is going on and try to change it.
What to Do When a Child has Tantrums?
Knowing the reasons why children have temper tantrums will help parents understand what their children are going through. And with this understanding, they will be able to take care of the situation more positively.
Here are some ways for you to handle a tantrum when it happens:
1. Stay Calm
You don’t want to complicate the situation by getting frustrated and angry, too.
Your child needs to get himself together, and seeing you calm can help him.
2. Understand and Acknowledge your Child’s Feelings
Saying “you feel mad that your drink spilled, don’t you?” will let your child reflect on his feelings and give him a chance to start over.
3. Find out What is Causing the Tantrum
Offer food if your child appears hungry or take him to bed when he is tired or sleepy.
4. Let the Tantrum Pass.
Sometimes, your child just needs to let it all out.
As long as you are there and your child is safe, then you can ignore it and wait it out.
Talking won’t get to a child once a tantrum starts, anyway.
5. Take Him to a Safe and Quiet Place
If there is danger that your child can get hurt, take his to a safe and quiet place where he can calm down.
6. Try a Little Distraction
You can make him laugh by making funny faces or you can offer an activity that your child likes.
7. Discuss the Behavior
Once the tantrum stops, discuss the behavior and provide alternatives or brainstorm solutions to the problem without giving in to your child’s demands.
How to Keep Temper Tantrums at Bay?
Responding to Child Tantrums positively and efficiently when it happens is great. But if you can avoid it, try to keep tantrums at a distance.
These ways can help you out:
- Try not to get your child overstimulated, tired, hungry and stressed. Make sure he eats and sleeps or take naps at the right time. And don’t overexpose him to too much stimuli at once.
- Be observant and anticipate when your child might feel a big emotion. When you see it coming, help your child manage the feeling or try to distract him from it.
- Help your child identify and name emotions. Doing so will help him manage it better.
- Try to make your words more inviting instead of commanding. Saying, “do you want to put on your shoes first or your jacket so we can go out and play?” This will also give him a sense of control.
- Prevent power struggles by keeping dangerous or inappropriate things out of sight and off-limits.
- Provide your child with the attention he needs. And offer praise and encouragement where needed.
Related: Raising Emotionally Intelligent Kids
When your child is having a temper tantrum, the right kind of attention will make it stop and your child will learn from it, too.
So, the next time you feel like having a tantrum yourself because your kid is having a meltdown, keep the tips above in mind, take a deep breath and think about what you want your child to learn.