The term ‘temper tantrum’ is commonly used by parents to express the uncontrollable and quite unpredictable behavior exhibited by children, especially toddlers, as a means of demanding or manipulating the outcome of a situation. Having established a sense of comfort with the parents and family as well as testing their boundaries, a toddler will often throw a tantrum within the homestead and may test the effectiveness of a tantrum in public as well. Understanding the basis of a tantrum is essential to reducing these outbursts as well as coping with your toddler in these scenarios.
What is a Temper Tantrum?
Temper tantrums are often an expression of the toddler’s self determination and independence when faced with an ‘uncooperative’ parent. It may be triggered by a host of emotions and may be the final show of frustration when other methods to ‘negotiate’ a situation is unsuccessful. While a temper tantrum can be embarrassing in a public setting, it is often frustrating at meal time when the family is trying to share some quality time in a peaceful setting.
Parenting Tips for Temper Tantrums
- Stay calm and in control. Any outburst of emotion from your side may aggravate your child further and exacerbate the tantrum. You are trying to teach your toddler to be calm so start by setting an example.
- Try to calm down your child by speaking to him or her in a composed tone of voice. Inform him or her that you understand that they are upset but you can only discuss the situation once he or she calms down and speaks to you in a controlled manner.
- Advise your toddler to breathe deeply with you to calm down. Deep but slow inhaling and exhaling. This is effective in staying calm in any situation and your toddler is still learning to deal with emotions in a controlled manner. Your assistance as a care giver will teach your toddler self control which they will carry through into adulthood.
- If you cannot calm down your child, usher him or her away from the dining table. Inform them calmly that while they have the right to be upset and express it, they should not disrupt meal time for the rest of the family. Your toddler’s temper tantrum is due to the fact that he or she sees the situation as a crisis. Inform them that it is not a crisis and there is no need to panic and once they have gained their composure, they are welcome to return to the dining table and join the family for meal time.
- After the temper tantrum and once meal time is over, sit down with your child and discuss what occurred in a relaxed manner. Teach your toddler to express their emotions and differentiate and label whether they are feeling angry, afraid, hurt or frustrated. Listen to your child’s reasoning of the situation and calmly advise him or her how that sort of behavior is not acceptable and there are alternatives to expressing their emotions.
- Clearly explain to your toddler why he or she cannot have what they want at that particular moment. Indicate that you as mom, dad or caregiver has certain responsibilities as an adult for their benefit. The child may not understand your position but at least you have clearly stated where you stand on the situation and how a temper tantrum will not work in the situation again.
- Negotiating with your child is not necessarily an unhealthy child rearing tactic. Sometimes the best solutions are based upon mutual agreement. If your toddler does not want to eat their vegetables, then negotiate that they eat at least half the portion of vegetables and then you will allow them to leave the dinner table. Do not bribe with treats as this creates unhealthy eating habits later in life.
Dealing with Toddlers
Linguistic and intellectual development may not be at the same level as an older child but treating your toddler as incompetent is often frustrating for a child. Teach your child to deal with emotions in a controlled manner irrespective of age and do not succumb to the thinking that certain manners of unruly behavior is acceptable for certain ages.
These simple parenting tips may not always be easy to implement in a toddler that is still discovering their environment and learning about social interaction. Perseverance and patience on your part will go a long way in reducing or stopping temper tantrums in your toddler before it becomes a learned behavior that is expressed throughout childhood or even the teen years.