Temper tantrums are common in both girls and boys between ages one to three. This is a normal feature of growing up age and its occurrence varies in different kids. It’s just the way of young kids to show their displeasure and that they’re angry or upset with something. But there surely are ways to deal with such episodes of anger or frustration. Read on to know more about temper tantrums and tips to prevent and manage it.
If you have a small child, you would have surely experienced his or her tantrums at some point of time. A temper tantrum is basically an outburst or expression of some extreme frustration or anger. The child would start crying or screaming hysterically or indulge in some violent acts like throwing things around, sitting or lying on the floor, banging the fists or legs on the feet etc.
As Ray Levy, who is a clinical psychologist in Dallas and has co-authored Try and Make Me! Simple Strategies That Turn Off the Tantrums and Create Cooperation says,
“Meltdowns are terrible, nasty things, but they’re a fact of childhood. Young kids — namely those between the ages of 1 and 4 — haven’t developed good coping skills yet. They tend to just lose it instead.”
But you would be left wondering why these outbursts begin to happen in the first place. To this, Levy says, it’s always a simple reason like not getting a particular thing they want. But in case of toddlers till 2 years, temper tantrums could be simply their way of communicating some need to their parent. For example, they need their diaper to be changed, they are asking for milk or juice or a toy may be. When a child gets frustrated and the parent isn’t responding the way he/she would want, they just resort to throwing a fit. But for older children, it could be more of demanding and getting their way by throwing a tantrum.
As discussed earlier, tantrums could be because the child is hungry, tired, or uncomfortable. Toddlers don’t know how to deal with frustrations and not getting what they want, hence they react that way. Also because little ones haven’t learnt how to speak yet, they don’t know how to voice what they feel. Till 2 years of age, kids usually resort to tantrum tactics, because they don’t know how to show what they feel or need. These outbursts tend to decline once their language skills are better developed.
Another factor is that some toddlers need more independence than others. However, they also feel insecure. At times children don’t know how to respond to some big change, like if the mother starts to leave the child at a day care or with a new nanny. A little kid won’t know how to express this feeling and doesn’t understand the reason for the changes happening in the environment. In such situations, a tantrum might show the child’s inner fears too.
Having said that, some older kids can also show tantrums at times. Though they have gained language and other social skills by now, they could be simply insecure or angry or might want something and are not able to convince their parent for it.
So here are some things that could trigger tantrums:
So all this is familiar, right? Now, let’s see how we can handle such tantrums in an effective way.
So now you know that when your child is hungry or tired, they have no tolerance; so, be prepared to deal with it. They can’t talk yet and cannot ask for a snack or a nap. It’s a good idea to carry their favourite snack when you take them along for grocery shopping etc. Also, did you know that the average tantrum lasts from just one to three minutes? Till that time, don’t waste your energy on yelling or getting angry. Don’t make a big deal out of it or get embarrassed. Wait for this to pass calmly. Make sure that you don’t buy peace by giving in or giving reason or another extreme – punishment. Take a deep breath and hold your child’s hand or hug to show him that you understand him and that you will talk it out later.