Toddlers and tantrums tend to go hand in hand, and it is important to remember that this phase will pass. A temper tantrum is usually a result of the child not being able to effectively express himself verbally, which leads to intense frustration.
Temper tantrums are usually dramatic, intense and full of emotion. With a calm demeanor, patience and persistence, you can almost always help diffuse the drama of a temper tantrum and change the situation to a calm, quiet discussion. It is important to stay calm, keep control and maintain peace.
Here are a few strategies to try and implement but, please remember, it is vital to choose a strategy that is in tune with the child’s individual personality and needs:
- Maintain a consistent routine … the more predictable your routine is, the easier it is for a child who is prone to temper tantrums.Provide a warning before transitions.
- Offer choices so that the child feels he has some control over the situation. Keep the choices limited to accomplishing the task at hand. For example, “Would you like to put your coat on yourself or would you like some help?”
- Distractions and redirections work wonders with little ones.
- Try to avoid the word, ‘no’ as it adds to a toddler’s frustration. Instead, use phrases like ‘later’ or ‘after lunch’.
- Be aware of stressors that may require extra empathy (toilet training, starting daycare, etc). A little empathy goes a long way when a child is feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.
- Say something positive before making your request of the child, and make the request almost a challenge: “Zoey, you remembered to put your crayons away, but I see your chair needs to be pushed in. Let’s see how quietly you can do it.”
- Respect and acknowledge the child’s feelings, “I know you are feeling angry…,” That must have made you feel really sad when…” When children receive verbal assurance that their feelings are important and acknowledged, they gradually learn to put those feelings into words instead of acting out.
Most children do grow out of the need for tantrums when they have more language skills and understanding. But the way you deal with them in the toddler years is important. If they are handled harshly, or if you constantly ignore a child’s feelings and need for comfort, they may well become worse and carry on for a much longer period of time.