Understanding the reasons for those tantrums will help you handle them better.
THE toddler years often start with a bang, a thump and a resounding “No!” Parents with toddlers often have a hard time when it comes to getting their toddlers to do what they want.
It is like taking a roller-coaster ride. One moment you feel on top of the world when your toddler achieves what you have been teaching him. The next moment, you hit rock bottom, feeling helpless with a screaming toddler in your hands.
Temper, temper: Tantrums peak between 18 months and two-and-a-half years.
Temper tantrums are so common that some experts believe they are part and parcel of normal development. These tantrums peak between 18 months (some as early as 15 months) and two-and-a-half years.
As the child is focusing on the development of self, he will use “me” or his own name. He wants to be independent and do many things for himself.
However, the toddler gets frustrated when he tries to do everything. As he works at being independent, he faces many obstacles that prevent him from achieving his goals. Around this time, too, his parents find themselves repeatedly saying “No” to their active toddler.
To survive your toddler’s tantrums, you need to understand what causes his outbursts. It is normal for a two-year-old to have two or three tantrums a day, each lasting about five to 10 minutes. If your toddler’s tantrums last longer than that, or if his crying sounds distressing, you must investigate further.
At this young age, children are self-centred. They are unable to see things from another person’s perspective.
Your toddler will not consider what you say or how you feel when you try to explain to him why he cannot have what he wants. He is more interested in the here and now – his own feelings and what he wants.
Once your toddler realises that his tantrums can get him what he wants, he will constantly use them to get his own way. Tantrums can be rather unnerving to busy parents who have little time to pay attention to the reason behind them.
Here are some time-tested strategies to cope with toddler tantrums:
1. Safety first, argue last
Control the situation and not the child. Since the toddler is tempted by potentially dangerous household objects, do not leave them around in full view and within easy access of the curious child.
Make a daily spot-check of your home for safety hazards. Sometimes things that were there before can end up in the hands of your toddler.
Remove your child from potentially dangerous situations. Do not leave water in tubs in the bathroom when there are toddlers in the house. Bathroom doors should be kept closed at all times and locks should be child-proof.
2. Ignore the misbehaviour
When your toddler is exploring and gets into mischief, ignore his non-threatening misbehaviour. Instead, focus on what he is doing right. Pay attention to his positive behaviour and encourage him to behave appropriately, without nagging or fussing. Discipline is more than rewards and punishment. Your toddler learns more when you model self-control and positive behaviour.
Your child may get messy at mealtimes. Show him how he can clean up after himself. A wet sponge and a small bucket can do wonders for a young child who is learning to take care of himself and his environment.
3. Reinforce good behaviour
Toddlers like to please their parents. When children behave well, give them lots of hugs and positive words. Reinforce their good behaviour by saying exactly what you observe: “You have cleaned up after yourself” or “You finished your porridge.”
Good behaviour is often ignored because parents feel they should only teach discipline when children make mistakes. Children who are encouraged by their parents’ positive attention tend to have fewer emotional outbursts. They are calmer and happier, knowing that they themselves can exercise self-discipline.
4. Have a sense of humour
Turn a tug-of-war situation with your child into one that is fun and playful. Humour can be used to diffuse a tense situation. In most cases, your toddler may find it hard to understand what you really want of him. Laugh with him and try once more.
Getting angry with your toddler will only make matters worse. Instead, do some pretend play and make things fun for you and your child. He will eventually cooperate when you play with him.
Raising toddlers requires parents to be able to laugh at things when times are rough. You are your child’s first teacher. He will learn from you that one can turn a negative situation into a positive one. Life with your toddler can be smooth-sailing – until the next tantrum