Dealing with toddler tantrums is not easy as you probably know. I grew up in the 70’s where in my culture parents didn’t know how to deal with toddler tantrums. As a matter of fact, they couldn’t even comprehend what we call today tantrums in a child.
Having said that, I really cannot remember children having so often tantrums. Parents at that time would have judged this kind of behaviour as a caprice or miseducation that needed to be addressed with strict parenting.
Nowadays, we have enough information out there to understand that toddler tantrums are part of the process of a child’s development.
The question now is how to deal with this challenge and cope?
What are toddler tantrums?
First let’s define tantrums and see how we can better deal with the challenge. Tantrums in children can be explained as an unexpected emotional outburst or anger that are generally characterized by screaming, hitting, crying and even violence. This behaviour in children occur when they can’t have what they want.
Nothing really prepared me for the screaming, hitting and pinching. I remember all the utopic ideas I had when I was young or when I was pregnant about raising my child.
Sometimes I wonder where down the line I might have criticised a parent for letting her child misbehave and being so loud crying. Could it be karma coming back to me?
Trust me since I am a mother, I choose not to judge another parent. Parenthood is not easy. Anyway, that’s another subject.
Basically, toddler tantrums are quite normal. But, what to do when your child hit or pinch you damn strong? Do you hit back? How do you keep your cool?
That’s a lot of questions, right?
I was told not to worry about tantrums because they will decrease.
Ok, yes at some extend. Thanks God it’s not every week anymore. However, tantrums are still there! My son is over 4 years now. The bigger is get the louder he is now.
What to keep in mind is that behaviour is conducted by emotion. Small children don’t have the ability to use logic, so they act purely on emotion.
And, let’s see how we can deal with these tantrums
Avoid situations that trigger tantrums
Quite often I realised that I could have prevent my son to have tantrums if I knew the clue earlier. Now, I have a bit more experience, things are much better.
For instance, when he wakes up grumpy and he gets fussy for little things that’s a sign that bigger trouble is ahead. In that case I let him alone until he comes to me and asks for something.
Another way I use to avoid conflict is to communicate with my son. Especially when he is enjoying himself and I want to do something else. I let him know in advance what will happen next. For example, when he is having fun in the parc and I want to go, I generally warn him that he has 5 min left before we go.
Or, if I play with him at home for a while and then I need to tell him that I will be finishing soon because I need to cook the diner. Most of the time, he tries to negotiate for longer time but that’s fine I can adjust as long as it’s not for additional hour.
However, tantrums have it that sometimes out of the blue the crisis hit you without any prior signs.
This is where is destabilising for a parent or carer.
How many times this happen to me. One minute my son is full of joy and the next minute he is full of screaming. If you don’t know he is having a temper tantrum you might think that he is possessed!
Another way to deal with tantrums is to stay calm during the challenging moment.
Ok, I must confess that it’s not always easy; we are human after all! It is not easy especially when for example I see my son grabbing dishes and smash them on the floor.
Yes, it is that bad! Now, as soon as my son has a temper tantrum, I must remove any potential harmful hazard to keep him safe.
There are good reasons to get angry, but I resist the feeling to shout at him. It not worth the try, it just makes matter worst therefore I prefer to wait and let him calm down.
I generally avoid direct eye contact with him and turn my attention to something else.
Also, I know that if I go to another room, he gets even angrier! It looks like in his mind he would say: “don’t you dare to walk away from”.
Poor little thing. It is so hard to see him going through this emotional anger. I just let it go because I know at the end he will stop and come to me for a cuddle.
So, I stay in the room and get busy to perhaps do some household.
Dealing with tantrums at home is surely more manageable than in public.
The other day we were outside, and I offered him to eat in a coffee nearby. Once we arrived there, I didn’t like the place and wanted to change to another one. Big mistake! My son didn’t agree on that at all. When I went out of the coffee shop, he followed me and grabbed me to get back inside. As I continued walking, he run back to the place. I had to leave the scooter in the middle of the pavement to run after him. So stressful the entire situation.
To cut a long story short, a couple who passed by with their dog managed to help me out. Thanks God there are still people out there who are ready to help. They managed to make diversion. They even help me by carrying the scooter while I was carrying my son for a little while.
And, he was fine again.
Distraction is an excellent way to deal with toddler tantrums. Like this couple I have just mentioned earlier, they found the perfect way to distract him. Suddenly my son was not the centre of attention but the dog. We were introduced to a cute dog and I see it like my solace at that moment.
At home, finding any distraction would do to get rid of the screams and yelling. Of course, it works if he can only hear me talking.
A simple sentence like: ‘Oh look, look at the cute little squirrel in the garden’ could be enough to distract him from tantrums.
Also, some parents reported that they do a funny face to make diversion, but this doesn’t work with my son. That make him more frustrated than ever!
Finally, dealing with toddler tantrums are not easy but we can survive them. By finding the right tactics, we can make life easier for our children and for us parents as well.Talking To Toddlers: Dealing With The Terrible Twos And Beyond