Tantrum is defined as sudden, unplanned show of anger. During tantrum, toddlers often cry, scream or whine.
Tantrums are more common in children from age 1 to 4 years. It is most intense at the beginning and usually last for 2 mins or less.
Most children stop having tantrums by age 4 or 5 especially when they learn healthy ways to handle strong emotions.
Children are most likely to have tantrums when they are afraid, overtired or uncomfortable.
If you cannot prevent the tantrum, here are some tips for dealing with it.
1. Distract your child: Take advantage of your toddler’s short attention span by giving something else in place of what they can’t have or change the environment. Take your child to a quiet place where he or she can calm down safely.
2. Encourage good behaviour: At this age, its important to help your child understand what good behavior is. You can do this in different ways:
a. Shower your toddler with lots of praise and also encourage him when he behaves well. Make your praise be specific as possible. Notice when he does something good, and tell him how pleased you are. He or she will enjoy knowing that he made you happy and this will make him behave well again.
b. Ignore some of the bad behavior: If you get angry with him when he does something he shouldn’t, he will learn that one way to get your attention is to behave badly. If for example he throws his toy which may hit another child, quietly remove the toy without saying a word.
3. Redirect him when you can: If you see a potentially explosive situation arise- he refuses to put on his shirt when its time to go out, simply sing him a funny song and quickly slip his shirt on while he is enjoying your antics.
4. Give him choices whenever you can: Letting him feel as if he has some control over a situation can make all the difference. If for example he refuses to wear the shoes you select, pull out a couple of suitable choices and let him decide which he would like to wear.
5. Avoid shouting or aggression with him and with others, such as your partner. Children learn by example. You are your child’s role model.
6. Reward systems are great: The best rewards are not treat or sweets but attention from you.
7. Use positive phrases to get him to do things: Toddlers are continually testing you and the boundaries you set, and if you listen to yourself you may realize you spend a great part of each day saying ‘NO’.
8. Structure the day to avoid boredom and try to go out at least once a day.
Note: holding your child during tantrum may help a younger child feel more secure and calm down more quickly. When your child is having a floor thumping tantrum, the most important thing you can do is to stay calm and wait it out. Do not let your child’s behavior cause you to lose control.