Toddler Tantrums – When to Worry

3 min read

Children are a source of immense happiness to a family. It is they who make a family complete. A newborn has its own features and peculiarities. There are a lot of challenges which a parent faces with a newborn, but over time, he or she starts understanding what the baby wants. Once a child becomes a year old he or she is referred to as a toddler. Toddler is a child who is between 12 months and about 3 years of age. The word is derived from the word ‘toddle; which means ‘to walk unsteadily’. This is what they do at that age.

Temper tantrums in toddlers:

Children at this stage are developing very fast. They are developing social skills and also becoming emotionally strong. They go through varieties of emotions like happiness, sorrow, anger, irritation etc. Tantrums are their way of giving release to emotions. They might be having difficulty in figuring something out or completing a task. This frustration gets expressed as a tantrum. Adults express their emotions by saying what they feel. But in case of small children who have not yet learnt to express their feeling in words, they throw tantrums. It is a very normal part of growing up.
Children throw tantrums by crying, yelling, pushing things, hitting out, throwing stuff etc. They do not have control over themselves and often their behaviour ends up in an emotional outburst. Temper tantrums in children is a very common behavioural issue and it is mainly to get the attention of the adults. Usually this becomes less frequent and less intense as the child grows. In toddlers, tantrums are not planned to humiliate or embarrass the parents and are usually sudden fits of irritation. But in slightly older children, it could also be planned keeping in mind that the parent may give in to their demand if they throw a tantrum.

Handling a tantrum:

The most sensible way to handle a tantrum is

  • to talk to the child and understand why he is acting so. In case it can be resolved, required action should be taken immediately.
  • In case, it is just general frustration it is better to just let the child be. Ignoring the tantrum will help him get over it by himself and become calm. Only ensure that he does not get hurt physically or hurt anyone else. Sometimes, frustration needs an outlet. It is good to just let them vent it out.
  • It is also good to divert their attention to a book or something of interest. They will forget their tantrum.

If the tantrum is for an unreasonable demand, the parent should very firmly communicate that it is not acceptable. However much the child cries, the parent should not give in. Also the parent can tell the child that throwing a tantrum will not yield any results. If he wants something, he will have to use words and express himself.
Further, tantrums can be prevented keeping in the mind the following:

  • Stay calm. Listen to and try to understand the cause of the tantrum.
  • Accepting that temper tantrums are normal in a toddler will help the parent handle it better.
  • Being consistent in behaviour. The child also understands where the parent will relent and where they will not. So throwing tantrums gets reduced
  • Allowing the child to decide and respecting his wishes goes a long way in instilling good values and behaviour in kids.
  • Appreciate when the child behaves well.
  • Steer clear of situations which trigger a tantrum.
  • Plan ahead keeping in mind the child’s needs, so that he does not get irritated or frustrated in the middle of your chores.
  • Tune in to the child’s feelings and empathise.
  • Encourage your child to talk and use words to tell what he wants instead of crying or yelling.
  • In many cases, if it really gets out of hand it is also good to hold the child physically and stop the tantrum.

Tantrums reduce as the child starts developing self control. In case even after 4 or 5 years of age, the child is unable to control temper tantrums, it is good to seek professional help. Doctors will check physical and psychological conditions of the child and accordingly decide what corrective action is to be taken.
Tantrums should be corrected at a younger age, so that they do not become a way of life as the child grown into an adult. If not corrected early, the adult could become anti social.

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