Tantrums in toddlers are not unusual. These can even become more frequent among 2-year-olds. As our kids are still learning to speak, they find it hard to relay their thoughts verbally. It can be frustrating and often lead to tantrum-throwing. And intense and constant toddler tantrums can drain a parent. What we need is to update our parenting book with ways to correct and avoid this aggressive behaviour.
Effective Ways to Handle Tantrums in Toddlers
If your child throws frequent tantrums, that does not make you a bad parent. Temper tantrums are their only way of telling us that “Hey mum, I’m upset!” These can manifest in several ways, like screaming, crying, thrashing and stomping. In worst cases, the emotional meltdowns can lead to hurting themselves or others. And so, parents need to have these few foolproof strategies up their sleeves to help little ones and prevent more distressing situations.
Act on an emotional meltdown swiftly
When you know what causes your child to throw a tantrum, take him out of the situation way before the emotional breakdown escalates. It’s easier to put things back in order this way. When you do this, look at your child in the eye and speak to him calmly.
However, when your toddler begins to hit, kick, bite or throw things, consider enforcing a timeout. Find a quiet corner for your little one to sit and calm down. A 1-minute timeout should be enough for 1-year-olds, and you can extend the time limit as they grow older. It should be your last resort, but be consistent when doing this. When things have settled down, talk to your child and explain the reason for the timeout.
Practice being calm and positive
I know. Keeping your cool when dealing with tantrums in toddlers is easier said than done. But getting angry or yelling at your child doesn’t help either. Your child might even replicate this reaction when things don’t go his way. So, take a deep breath and count to ten.
The best way to stay calm is to have a plan of action should your child throw a tantrum. Say, positively acknowledge your toddler’s frustration, but be firm about your house rules. Understand that this parenting task also takes time and that your child needs you to outgrow such bad habits. Hold and hug your kids to lessen the tension. In most cases, a warm embrace is all it takes to reach a ceasefire!
Identify the tantrum source
Toddler temper tantrums happen due to a myriad of reasons. But the most likely culprits are hunger, fatigue or boredom and the need for attention. So, when kids throw a tantrum, ask them to calm down first, so they can tell or show you exactly what they need. Use these instances as an opportunity to teach good behaviour and learn what’s causing them to misbehave.
Give the kids space to vent
Frustration, lack of control and anger are natural feelings our kids had to go through while growing up. So, at times, it’s best to leave your child be when the emotional floodgates open. Space can considerably help with his normal child development. Trying to reason with him while the meltdown is in full swing might only make the tantrum worse. But do keep your child safe by keeping him close to you.
Tips to Avoid Tantrums in Toddlers
Of course, our ultimate goal is to prevent a toddler tantrum from happening. With time and practice, you’ll be able to understand your child and respond more proactively. The key here, however, is repetitiveness. Sending consistent messages to your child support his positive behavioural development. Here are some techniques you can do:
- Recognise good behaviour. Instead of giving in to your kids when they throw a tantrum, do this as an alternative. Don’t let politeness or kindness go unrewarded! Give praises or positive attention for good deeds, and thank your child for being cooperative.
- Know when to say no. Do you always reply negatively to every request your child makes? Does this often lead to a tantrum? Perhaps, you need to evaluate things rather than say no by default. To stay in control, consider setting boundaries instead. These tips to avoid raising spoiled kids can help, too.
- Find a distraction. As kids typically have a short attention span, a diversion is your trump card. Quickly switch gears when necessary. For instance, respond to signs of boredom by saying you’re having ice cream later after dinner! You can also get a book, offer him a toy or go grocery shopping. Try to make a funny face or tell a joke.
- Avoid tantrum triggers. Be attentive to your child’s lunch or nap time if feelings of hunger or sleepiness almost always led to a tantrum. Give kids a sense of control (and prevent frequent tantrums) by establishing a sleep routine or schedule of regular mealtime.
- Teach your child to communicate. Help him develop language skills so he can express himself through words rather than screams. Talk to him more. Your toddler can understand you despite his limited vocabulary.
Getting Professional Help
Tantrums in toddlers become less frequent by age 3. However, there are times when these become worse even after age 4. Kids may also start showing excessive tantrum behaviours like holding their breath and refusing to eat or sleep.
If these persist and are already affecting your family, consult a paediatrician for expert advice and clinical care. Your general practitioner can help you find the right specialist if tantrums happen due to developmental issues or health conditions. A clinical psychologist may also identify other psychosocial factors causing these frequent and severe tantrums.