A toddler temper tantrum can be downright frustrating, and all you want is the kicking-and-screaming to stop. Toddler temper tantrums are a regular part of child development. They usually happen between the ages of 1 to 3 as a way of expressing they are frustrated or upset because their language skills are still being developed. Toddler temper tantrums are a way of learning independence, what is appropriate behavior, and learning they are not going to get everything they want. As parents, this can be tough to handle in our busy lives. At North Shore Family Services our therapists can work assisting parents with these issues. For immediate help, here are five strategies to start taming the a toddler temper tantrum and getting some peace in your home.
Keep Your Cool
Your actions are the best teacher to your toddler about behavior. Responding in a calm and stern matter will help. When you react out of anger or frustration could complicate the tantrum and redirecting the behavior. Your job is to teach your kid how to calm down and have some self-control An excellent way to help them is in creating a calm down box which can help them practice calming down in moments of frustration while you can receive some quiet time.
Give Positive Attention
Try paying less attention to the misbehaviors (sometimes it is okay to ignore the misbehavior or tantrum) and pay attention to the positive behavior. Praising and emphasizing positive behaviors may reduce a toddler temper tantrum or misbehavior. Praise can come in several forms such as a high-five, thank-you, telling your child and others you are proud of your child, smiles, and hugs. There may be some behaviors which are harder for your kid to learn with praise alone. Rewards or incentives for the harder behaviors also help give positive attention. Make sure the rewards and incentives fit the behavior. For example, let’s say there is a special small treat given after school or daycare. Now they only receive it after hanging up their coat or taking off their shoes once getting home. Other examples of rewards can be a sticker, extra TV time, play a game, an additional book at bedtime, special time with a parent or a trip to the park or for a special treat.
Giving a child some control over little things in their day can help reduce temper tantrums. Offer minor choices such as “Do you want orange juice or apple juice?”. “Do you want to brush your teeth before or after taking a bath?”. This way you are setting up them to have some control. Offering choices also teaches them it is not okay to say “no” when choices are given. Choices is also a great way to divert your child’s attention during a temper tantrum and on to something more productive.
Know Your Kid’s Limits
Even as adults, we have our limits, especially when we are tired and hungry. The same goes for your child. If you know they did not eat lunch, then do not tell them they cannot have a snack before they do something you are asking them to do. Another example, if you know your child is tired do not run one more errand before heading home. A child being hungry or tired increases the chance of a temper tantrum when asked to do other things before these basic needs are met.
Be Specific and Consistent
A toddler temper tantrum may come from a multitude of reasons which are making your child upset. Which sometimes means one way of handling it may be different than the last one. Try your best to remember your child has a short attention span and cannot be rationalized with. Stay calm, stern, and consistent with how you handle the misbehavior. Give them brief yet direct instructions such as “wait your turn” or “once you are done screaming I will talk to you.” Once you have set the stage for what is expected, do not give in to your child. If you give in it may lead to continued behavior as they get older.
If safety is ever a concern where a kid may become a danger of hurting themselves or others during the tantrum they should be taken to a safe place where they can calm down. This may be a specific space designated for time-outs or hold the child firmly for several minutes while they calm down. This also applies when the tantrum is in public. Never give in or be lenient when safety is a concern. Safety is when consistency is vital. Otherwise, kids will learn the negative behavior is okay and can be used to get what they want.