Toddler Temper Tantrums

Taming Toddler Tantrums: Ideas that Really Work

We’ve all seen it. A young child throwing a tantrum in public because he’s not getting what he wants. It can be so embarrassing when it’s your child who is so seemingly out of control.

It’s not easy to understand why your toddler has a tantrum but at such a young age, children are consumed with thoughts of themselves. Everything is about them and how they feel. This is perfectly normal in very young children.

Until they can be taught how to share, toddlers think that every toy or piece of food they see automatically belongs to them. It takes time and training for kids to see that other people’s needs are part of the picture, too.

Toddler temper tantrums can be humiliating. Your first thought might be that all eyes are focused on you and your screaming child, but getting embarrassed or angry won’t diffuse the situation.

7 Helpful Hints for Dealing with Toddler Temper Tantrums

Here are a few tips to help you cope during tantrums:

1) Ignore the tantrum – This trains your child to use more appropriate forms of communication. Ignoring a toddler is not harsh. If your child is squirming on the floor screaming for a cookie, continue to talk to him as if you never noticed. Eventually, they will get the hint and stop screaming.

2) Avoid instant gratification – Toddlers can throw tantrums when they are denied something that they want. Some parents will give in to keep their child quiet. This is always a mistake and teaches them that tantrums actually work.

Remember that the behaviour you reward is the behaviour that will be repeated. Kids will throw tantrums because they have learned that’s the way to get what they want. Don’t reinforce negative behaviour.

Simply tell them “no” and keep moving. Tantrums will continue if they know you will cave.

3) Don’t get angry – When you scream and they scream the situation is wildly out of control. You’ll end up crying and your toddler will still be screaming. In any situation, raised voices mean loss of control. Keep using the same calm voice you use when they are behaving to get your child to calm down as well.

4) Praise your toddler when they behave well – Positive reinforcement is better than negative. In the absence of positive attention a child will behave badly just to get some attention at all. Acting out and throwing tantrums may be a cry for attention. Don’t let it get to this point. Clap and celebrate when they go to the potty successfully and when they put away their toys. Good manners such as saying “please” and “thank you” deserve a smile and a hand clap as well.

5) Run errands after nap time – Kids get punchy when they get tired. Don’t we all? Toddlers will misbehave more often if they are dragged around when they are tired.

6) Carry snacks with you – Low blood sugar can lead to tantrums. If you are out longer than anticipated and lunch or dinner time is close at hand, let them eat a healthy snack to keep their hunger pains at bay and their sugar levels stable.

If you ensure that your child is fed and well rested, there is less chance of a meltdown.

7) Be consistent in your punishment – At home, you might use “time out” to deal with a tantrum for bad behavior. In public do the same. Sit with your child on a bench for five minutes or take them to the car. Eventually they will learn that you are not a pushover and they will begin to behave.

Avoid reacting emotionally to your child’s antics. If you can manage to stay calm, patient, and deliberate in your response, your child eventually will learn to be calm as well.

Remember that this stage doesn’t last forever and you will have a much easier time getting through those toddler temper tantrum years.

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Norma Esler
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