Toddler Tantrums

We have all seen children having tantrums at some stage. If you have a toddler you sympathise with the parents. If you don’t you shake your head and quietly think ‘mine would NEVER do that’. Well they will and when you least expect them to.

Temper tantrums are synonymous with the toddler years. The tantrum in the hands of a skillful toddler is an art form which will rival a Broadway show. He takes a quick look around to check that he is not going to get hurt when he lunges to the floor, he checks to see that he has the audience’s full attention. In a split second he starts his act, every detail designed to get the best reaction from his audience. How long the show lasts depends on the audience (you the parent).  The older the child the longer they can perform. Thankfully by age 4 they have found better ways to get what they want.

A toddler in full tantrum mode cannot be negotiated with.  So try the following –

Divert –  This works well with the younger toddler.  Try and divert his attention with something else.

Ignore – Stay calm and don’t get stressed.  Don’t argue with him, just go about with what you were doing. This is not easy.  Check that he can’t get hurt and if you have to, leave the room. An Oscar winning performance without audience might just not be worth the effort.

Time out – With the volume getting higher and the arms flaying you gently but firmly pick him up and place him in his room. Don’t shout,  just calmly but in a firm voice say that this behaviour is unacceptable and he must stay there till he is calmer (a minute for every year of his life).  Now remove yourself from the area. If he comes out and he is calm give him a great big love and all is forgiven.

There are a number of reasons your toddler will tantrum. If he is tired, due for a nap or hungry it might not be the best time to take him shopping. If he has been over stimulated and is battling to integrate all that is happening around him, he is more likely to tantrum. These you can deal with if you start to recognise the signs early. He might start to pick his nose, fidget or whine. He might shield his eyes with his hands, yawn or sneeze.  He may demand a bottle and if ignored it won’t be long before he throws himself on the floor for all to admire. Deal with this early to avoid a tantrum. Take him to a quite place,  let him sleep, feed him or just give him time to get away from all the noise and bustle.

As he gets older he is more likely to tantrum if he can’t get his own way. You have asked him to stop  throwing the ball in the lounge and after asking twice you take the ball away. Major reason to throw a tantrum no matter that you will allow the ball to be played with outside.

Tackling tantrums can be tricky but it’s not impossible. Bear in mind that you should rather comfort a sick child than discipline him or if he is frustrated at not being able to build the tower help him with the task. Using the options of divert, ignore and time out you will conquer all other tantrums.

Don’t give in or ‘applaud’ in any way. The least attention the performance gets the easier it is to cope with. If you keep giving rave reviews in the form of your own performance to the tantrum the show will go on.  Just bear in mind that the tantrums do eventually pass.

Toptots Early Learning SA

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