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Toddler Tantrum Taming
Energetic toddlers can be brilliant and hilarious. They can charm you with their newfound wit and melt your heart with snuggly hugs. If they have also mastered the art of a successful and intense tantrum, they may even have the ability to bring an otherwise calm parent to their knees.
Most children have tantrums at some point and a gifted few have a natural ability for taking these tantrums to a level that makes their parents (who were certain that their child would never behave like that in public) utterly dumbfounded. Learning to prevent and manage tantrums is essential, unless a parent doesn’t mind trying to function out in the world with the nagging fear that their child may completely flip out, without warning, for the enjoyment of innocent bystanders.
Tantrums can run from short and mild to the extreme, lasting as long as an hour. Some children get so upset that they break out in hives or give themselves a stomach ache. I once brought my 2 year-old to the doctor because she threw herself on the floor and rolled around screaming for a full hour. I thought she must be ill, but it was only the first of many tantrum to come. Stay relaxed and use some of the techniques below to get your self and your child through these tough times.
As you will see, there are many ways a parent can prevent tantrums, as well as methods for diffusing the emotional intensity of the outbursts that inevitably happen.
How to Throw A Tantrum
All The Answers for Toddler Tantrums?
Tips For Preventing a Toddler Tantrum
- Consider your toddler’s personality when designing their schedule. Some children thrive on a rigid routine, while others will enjoy a little bit of freedom. Work around their needs when planning your day. Schedule outings when they are well rested, well fed and generally calm.
- Don’t ever get caught out in the big wide world with a hungry toddler and an empty snack bag. A grumbling toddler tummy can escalate into a raving child fast.
- Say yes, when it is reasonable. Ask yourself: Is there really a good reason for saying no?
- Provide them with one or two choices (too many choices may overwhelm them), giving them a sense of control. Do not let them choose things that are your decision to make, like “Do you want to wear a hat?” but rather, "Would you like to wear your red hat or the yellow?”
- Keep an eye out for what may frustrate them. Eliminating challenges entirely is not a good idea, because they need to be challenged to learn and grow. Don’t expect more from them than that for which they are developmentally ready.
- Learn to distract your child quickly from things he finds upsetting. He will learn to handle frustration eventually, but until then, find an enjoyable alternative.
- Give your child fair warning. Let them know that in 5 minutes (or 2 or 10) that they will have to sit down for lunch, clean up their toys, leave the park etc.
- Explain to them how you expect them to behave before you head out to a friend’s house, the grocery store or the park and feel free to offer some incentives to encourage them to comply.
- If you sense your child is about to lose it, give them a bear hug from behind and whisper in their ear. Tell them everything is going to be okay, and ask them if they need your help controlling themselves or if they would like to manage on their own. This is a positive, loving way to calm an edgy child.
- Bedtime Games
If bedtime is a nightmare in your house, or if you just want a little change to your child’s bedtime routine, these fun and relaxing games can help you bring a little more fun to this often dreaded daily activity.
- Learning Games For Toddlers
An extensive collection of brain building games and activities for you and your toddler to enjoy together, categorized by age levels.
Managing Toddler Tantrums
- Stay calm. Speak calmly and softly to your child. Yelling or threatening will only strengthen your child’s emotional storm. If you expect your child to learn to control their anger, start by managing your own.
- Remove them from the situation if they cannot calm down. This may mean leaving a full cart of groceries in aisle 8, but that is okay. If you are at home, move them to a room where they can be alone. Let them continue their tantrum somewhere safe, and ignore it. Sometimes, it is not possible to make a quick exit. If this is the case, try every method until you find one that works for you and your child.
- Recognize their frustration, and reflect it back to them. “ You are frustrated that you can’t have the toy you want today.” This can help diffuse their emotions.
- Ignore the flare up. This will work with some children, but do not use this method if your child is extremely sensitive or going through a difficult time on some level.
- Distraction works best with younger toddlers at the onset of a tantrum. Find one of their favorite things to divert their attention, or keep a surprise item with you when running errands.
- Some experts recommend holding a child tightly during a tantrum. This will work for some toddlers, particularly the more sensitive child.
- If you are at home, join them. Lay on the floor with them, kicking and screaming and turn it into a joke. Lighten up this very normal phase of childhood. Warning: some children will find this method even more infuriating, because you are stealing their spotlight!
When It Is Finally Over
It is best for both of you to let it go and move on to another activity. Lectures and forced apologies are not always necessary, especially if the tantrum was the result of something beyond their control, such as hunger, frustration or exhaustion. Examine the situation carefully before issuing a punishment. Did they really do something wrong?
If you are lucky, you will be able to limit the tantrums to places where no one knows you, where other children are behaving badly as well, or at least not in the presence of those most excellent parents who happened to have given birth to angels in human form.
Allow your child to command attention in a more positive way, because as they get older, or find themselves with a sibling to fuel t heir anger, positive attention is really what they are hoping for, or I should say, any attention whatsoever.
And if the tantrums just get to be too much, and you simply cannot deal with your little one head on for another minute, there is one final option:
Hide in the bathroom and think about how it is only a matter of time before your screaming child will outgrow this phase!