Nothing frustrates a parent more than feeling powerless and unsure of how to handle toddler tantrums, especially when they erupt unpredictably. When a child ‘loses’ it and throws a temper tantrum, you’ll notice anger outbursts like screaming,..
Nothing frustrates a parent more than feeling powerless and unsure of how to handle toddler tantrums, especially when they erupt unpredictably. When a child ‘loses’ it and throws a temper tantrum, you’ll notice anger outbursts like screaming, whining, kicking, running away, breaking things, rolling on the ground, and any other behavior that expresses frustration.
If you are new to parenting, you might think your child is doing it intentionally to frustrate and embarrass you. However, it’s part of a child’s emotional development and they never do it to hurt you. It’s their unique way of communicating with you and expressing the emotions bottled up in them.
As a parent, you want to know how to deal with toddler tantrums at any time so that you can enjoy some peace in your parenting journey. This article offers you workable strategies to help you navigate through toddler tantrums.
Understanding Toddler Tantrums
Think of a container bottled filled with a carbonated drink under pressure. If you shake the bottle thoroughly, it will explode and pour out its contents due to the pressure inside it.
Now, think of your toddler. They are learning and discovering so much about themselves and their environment. They are also learning to talk and express themselves, do things independently, and make their own decisions.
Unfortunately, all these things can make them frustrated when they are unable to convey their message. For example, if you are at a store and they ask for something you had not budgeted for, you may decline their request. However, they don’t understand why you are declining their request for something they want, so they throw a massive tantrum in an attempt to push you to get it for them.
Understanding your toddler’s tantrums begins with knowing their common triggers and their possible reactions. Such triggers include hunger, discomfort, tiredness, overstimulation, or fear. Some will throw a tantrum when they need something or want your attention.
Once you understand your child’s triggers, you’ll know how to deal with toddler tantrums easily and even prevent them from happening.
Proactive Measures to Prevent Tantrums
Preventing a tantrum is more effective than dealing with one. Also, you don’t have to deal with screaming or whining once the tantrum happens. That’s why understanding your toddler’s triggers is important because you can identify them early and deal with them.
Here are strategic measures to help you prevent toddler tantrums before they happen.
- Consistent Routine
Since a toddler is learning so many things simultaneously, a routine will be a great way to help them learn things step by step. A structured daily schedule gives your child a sense of stability and a clear framework for their activities.
For example, if you create a clear feeding schedule, your child will know when to expect food and will only throw a tantrum if they don’t get it immediately. So to prevent a tantrum, you should ensure that you offer them food as scheduled.
- Setting Clear Boundaries
When you set boundaries for your child, you create a roadmap for them such that they know what is expected of them at any time. This gives them a sense of security and confidence when learning self-discipline and honing their problem-solving skills.
Setting boundaries means that your child understands things they can do, how far they can stretch the limits, and the consequences that follow. This way, they are able to express themselves freely while still exercising self-discipline.
- Using Distractions
Once you see a tantrum coming, the best way to deal with it is to create a distraction and divert your child’s attention. For example, if they are about to cry because they want something at the store, you can quickly show them something else that grabs their attention.
Redirecting their attention works because they forget why they wanted to cry and focus on something else.
In-the-Moment Strategies for Managing Tantrums
Sometimes it’s difficult to prevent a tantrum, resulting in to a full-blown massive tantrum. Don’t panic or feel like you have failed as a parent.
Here are some strategies to work out the situation.
- Stay Calm
Shouting at your child in the middle of a tantrum will only make the situation worse. Therefore, take a deep breath and approach the situation calmly. Build strong understanding and learn from previous similar situations.
- Validate your child’s feelings and empathize with them
Recognize the feelings that your child is trying to vent and show them that you understand their needs. With that, they will know that they already have your attention and can stop their tantrum to talk with you.
- Offer your child a safe space to calm down
If you are in a public area where you cannot pull your child aside, a teddy bear hug will provide a safe space for your child to ease their strong feelings and calm down. Otherwise, bring them to a room or a corner where they feel less threatened and can talk to you freely.
- Choose a distraction over offering a bribe
If you offer your child a bribe once during a tantrum or yield to their demands, they will learn always to expect it every time. Therefore, distract them with something else that doesn’t bribe them and doesn’t answer their tantrum.
Once the tantrum subsides, you can talk to your child about the problem and provide comfort for their difficult situation. Your conversation can include different coping mechanisms for your child whenever they find themselves in difficult situations that frustrate them.
Such techniques should be child-friendly and appropriate for their age so that they can incorporate them easily. For example, you can teach them to hug a stuffed animal tightly or take deep breaths as a way of calming down.
On the other hand, you can let your child know the consequences of their behavior if they insist on throwing such tantrums. This way, they’ll know their limits and remain within them.
Mistakes to Avoid When Handling Tantrums
There’s no perfect way to do it when handling tantrums but some actions can make the situation worse.
Some of these mistakes include:
- Losing your temper and yelling at your child
Children learn better through modeling. Therefore, if your reaction to your child’s tantrum involves yelling, they learn that from you and it becomes a part of them. The best thing is to remain cool and handle the situation calmly.
- Shaming and embarrassing your child
Tantrums are normal and your child has their own way of expressing themselves. Whatever means they use to express themselves is acceptable and you should not shame them for it because it damages their self-esteem in the future.
- Giving in every time
A toddler throws a tantrum to get your attention. Therefore, if you give in to their demands all the time, you’ll reinforce the behavior of throwing tantrums to get something instead of teaching them self-discipline and responsibility.
Seeking Additional Support
The parenting journey is exhausting if you do it alone. Therefore, it’s important to know when to seek help from a professional, especially if your child has severe behavioral issues.
Also, surround yourself with support from other mothers dealing with toddler tantrums like you. You could also find books and other resources to help increase your knowledge when dealing with your child’s behavioral changes.
Parenting is full of difficulties and every parent has had to deal with toddler tantrums in their parenting journey. Therefore, don’t panic when your child throws a tantrum because you are not alone.
Remember to stay calm during a tantrum and make sure that your child knows that they are in a safe place. If possible, prevent tantrum before it happens through a consistent routine and understanding your child.