Most parents have experienced the incredible tantrums of toddlers. My oldest child had perfected her tantrums to award-winner status until I finally figured out I had to change the way I reacted to her. After that, the other two seemed much easier at this stage. All toddlers have tantrums because they get frustrated easily and have very few problem-solving skills. Most likely, a tantrum will happen when toddlers are hungry, exhausted, or over-excited. Let’s face it – we adults are not at our best when we are hungry, exhausted or over-excited either!
So what are we supposed to do when faced with a tantrum? First, try to remain calm. Shaking, slapping, spanking or screaming at your child will make the tantrum worse. Set a positive example for your child by remaining in control of yourself and of your emotions.
Second, pause before you act. Take at least 30 seconds to decide how to handle the tantrum. Consider distracting the child or taking him to a private place to calm down if you are out in public – and isn’t that where the best tantrums happen? “I need help finding the biggest box of chocolate pudding, can you help?” or “Let’s go outside where we can get some fresh air” might be enough to calm your child.
Some children do well if you lower yourself to their level, calmly look them in the eye and whisper or sing soothing words to them. Other children simply need a caring adult to gently put their arms around them to let them know everything’s going to be OK.
One of the best ways to react to a tantrum is to give your child no reaction at all. If they don’t get attention, they may quickly learn that a tantrum isn’t the best way to get what they want. If you give in to their wants just to make the tantrum stop, you are only encouraging them to act this way.
Third, always wait until your child calms down before talking about the situation. You cannot reason with a screaming child. Tell your child how she can act when she feels a tantrum coming on. Comfort and reassure your child that you still love him, even though you disapprove of their behavior. Remember to give plenty of praise when your child is cooperative, too.