Children’s Temper Tantrums

22July 2021

Children between the ages of 1 and 2 can be very difficult, especially the “terrible twos” where it seems the only word they know is “no”. This is a normal part of the development process where the child is beginning to make their own decisions combined with an underdeveloped communication ability.

Kids, even infants, learn quickly what triggers to use and which of your buttons to push. The occasional temper tantrum is probably normal and if you handle it correctly, it will work itself out. When they continually increase, have some regularity, or accelerate you need to be concerned.

Some children are more prone to tantrums, like those who don’t react well to change or are hyperactive. Compound this with exhaustion, or hunger and you have a recipe for a tantrum.

The quickest and easiest solution is to give in. Buy the toy or snack or give your child whatever he or she is asking for. However, this only reinforces the bad behavior. First take control of yourself. Become as calm as possible and explain that these actions are not acceptable. If the entire event is just attention seeking, you may need to use some discipline. You need to be firm. Explain the consequences like, you will get a time out or no tv for the rest of the day. Then follow through.

This is not easy. Despite the stares and comments from onlookers and possibly a request from management to leave the premises, try to avoid the anger that is building. Explain firmly that you love him or her but you are not going to give them what they want. When the child realizes he or she will not succeed, the conduct should improve.

A time out will give everyone a chance to calm down, you included. The general rule for time out is one minute per year of child’s age. For an infant, it is okay for you to move away from the situation. Put your baby in a safe place like the crib and move to your own safe space. This can include listening to music or some other activity that will allow you to regain your composure. Call a friend or relative if you feel you need more help.

There are some techniques you can use to prevent the tantrum in the first place.

  • As much as possible avoid situations that will initiate a tantrum. If your plans change, give your child a head’s up at least five minutes earlier.
  • Communication is key. A child comprehends more than you think. The fewer changes in your day, the better.
  • Allow the child to take along a toy or food for the excursion. It also helps if you offer them a choice, so they will feel they have some control.
  • If possible, have the child rested and fed before leaving.
  • At home, don’t leave temptations at little arms’ length or even in their sight.

Give praise as the child makes the correct decision and an appropriate reward if available. Control yourself as best you can. There are other techniques including seeking counseling. You just need to find what works best for you and your child.

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