Even the most well-behaved toddler can have a tantrum from time to time. Tantrums are common during toddlerhood because kids can understand more than they can express and this often leads to frustration when they can’t communicate their needs.
Toddlers get frustrated in other ways, too, like when they can’t dress a doll or keep up with an older sibling. Power struggles can ensue when your toddler wants more independence and autonomy too soon.
The best way to deal with tantrums is to avoid them in the first place, whenever possible. Here are some strategies that may help:
- Make sure your child isn’t acting up simply to get attention. Try to establish a habit of catching your child being good (“time-in”), which means rewarding your little one with attention for positive behavior.
- Give your toddler control over little things. This may fulfill the need for independence and ward off tantrums. Offer minor choices that you can live with, such as “Would you like an apple or banana with lunch?”
- When kids are playing or trying to master a new task, offer age-appropriate toys and games. Also, start with something simple before moving on to more challenging tasks.
- Consider the request carefully when your child wants something. Is it outrageous? Maybe it isn’t. Choose your battles; accommodate when you can.
- Know your child’s limits. If you know your toddler is tired, it’s not the best time to go grocery shopping or try to squeeze in one more errand.
When Tempers Flare
If your child does throw a tantrum, keep your cool. Don’t complicate the problem with your own frustration. Kids can sense when parents are becoming frazzled and this can just make their frustration worse. Try to understand where your child is coming from. For example, if your youngster has just had a great disappointment, you may need to provide comfort.
Ignoring the outburst is another way to handle it — if the tantrum poses no threat to your child or others. Continue your activities, paying no attention to your child but remaining within sight. Kids who are in danger of hurting themselves or others during a tantrum should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down.
Some kids will have a hard time stopping a tantrum. In these cases, it might help to say to say, “I’ll help you settle down now.” But whatever you do, do not reward your toddler by giving into desires. This will only prove that tantrums are an effective tactic for getting what he or she wants. Instead, verbally praise your child for regaining self-control.
As their language skills improve and they mature, kids become better at handling frustration and tantrums are less likely. If you’re having difficulty handling you child’s temper tantrums or have any questions about discipline, ask your pediatrician for advice.
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