All of us have been witnesses to a temper tantrum. An infant is crying for a toy. A toddler who doesn’t want to take a bath. Or even a pre-schooler who insists on having the same chocolate pudding, as the child sitting next to her at lunchtime.As adults, what are we supposed to do when kids have these meltdowns that have nothing to do with reason?. How can we manage the situation fairly and compassionately?
Definition Of Tantrums
As the name suggests, a “temper tantrum” is a flare-up of the temper. During such a tantrum, the emotions take over, usually because there is something the child wants and isn’t getting.The physical manifestations of a tantrum may be dramatic. A child’s face may grow red from screaming, crying, kicking, and flailing. During tantrums, children may hold their breath and even become aggressive during a tantrum. Tantrums usually last from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, but maybe up to 30 minutes.
What Is The Origin Of a Tantrum?
Usually, parents can manage a child’s emotions and monitor their well-being. There are a lot of changes in a child’s life from ages 1–3. Which can be disorienting and upsetting and lead to a roller coaster of emotions for a child.They are just learning to express their preferences and, accustomed to being coddled by their parental figures, will be very determined as they show what they want and what they do not wish to.Tantrums are, therefore, a method of communication, and although they can be a real headache. They are also a sign of progress in a child’s communicative abilities.Besides, at this stage, children do not have full verbal capacities yet. Meaning that they may need to express themselves through other means, such as screaming and kicking. The tantrum itself may result from a child’s inability to communicate with words, which can be a great source of frustration.Toddlers don’t always have the self-control that they need to keep themselves from engaging in activities that are social no-no’s, like biting or throwing your belongings on the floor.They have limited self-regulation, which is needed for impulsive control and expression of emotions. Even though they may be able to repeat something back to you, their ability to implement it may not develop until they are in the early preschool age.
What Is Likely To Provoke a Tantrum?
The first is temperament. Some children have stronger reactions to situations that they don’t like, and they are more liable to have tantrums.Also, factors such as stress, fatigue, overstimulation, and hunger can lead to more significant difficulties in managing behaviour and feelings.Moreover, a particularly frustrating situation or strong emotions like worry, anger, and shame can overwhelm a child and make him or her especially prone to having a tantrum.
Are Tantrums Intentional?
For younger children, tantrums are simply the result of frustration, and children don’t have control over them. Older children, however, may have learned to have tantrums as a mechanism to get what they want.If parents reward children for having tantrums by giving them what they want, then these children are more likely to have them in the future.
The Difference Between Tantrums and Meltdowns
Do you think Temper tantrums and Meltdowns are the same?Absolutely, NOT!While tantrums happen when the toddlers are trying to get something they desperately want, meltdowns occur as a reaction to feeling overwhelmed.Tantrums are usually in the control of the kids. They can stop behaving in a certain way once they’re rewarded with what they need, but that’s not the case with meltdowns.The outcome of meltdowns is usually exhaustion/ tiredness or change in the amount of sensory input. For instance, your child might feel a lot peaceful when you leave a family gathering or party.
Preventing and Managing Tantrums
When young children have tantrums, it can have a severe impact on adults, who themselves become emotionally affected and don’t always know what to do.Preventing tantrums is beneficial to everyone, and there are some concrete measures you can take to keep temper tantrums to a minimum.When a child is having a tantrum, one of the best things you can do as an adult is to disengage from the emotional impact of the child’s behaviour.You should encourage your child to use words to tell you what he/she wants; it’s your responsibility to teach him/her simple words to describe his/her feelings.Don’t expect your child to be perfect and put reasonable limits. Daily routines are perfect for children as they know what to expect; all should stick to the rules and never change them.Try to avoid long outgoings or trips, remember a child can’t sit still for a long time, if you have to, then keep a toy or a book with you, take healthy snacks in case he/she gets hungry.Enough rest and sleep are crucial to avoid tantrums. Try to decrease saying no, so you won’t frustrate your child, consider saying yes sometimes. And First of all, don’t take it personally! That isn’t always the easiest thing to do – but remember that the child isn’t trying to make you angry, but is just having difficulties.It doesn’t matter what people around you think. Just keep a level head and don’t get wrapped up in the child’s emotions.Next, determine what you will and won’t accept. For example, if your child insists on watching a particular show while eating dinner but you’d rather that she not watch TV, what is more, important to you – that she eat her dinner agreeably, or not watch TV?It’s essential to be able to make compromises.Besides, it’s essential to let your child know when you’re about to end an activity. This way, he or she won’t get so worked up when it’s time to move on.It’s also essential to give children choices they can grasp. Sometimes this means being very specific. Instead of asking them to clean up, for example, ask them to put their books back on the shelf.As you are setting your limits, it’s essential to be as clear, direct, and straightforward as you can.That ends up being less stressful for both you and the child as you are telling a child what to do. Be sure to do so with as little emotion as you can. Try to speak compassionately. Ultimately, this is easier for both you and the child.Don’t forget to give positive feedback. When the child does something good, reinforce it with extra attention and praise.You can hug the child and tell him or her what a good listener he or she is. This extra reinforcement encourages further similar behaviour.
How To Respond?
So what are you supposed to do when a tantrum does happen?First, as mentioned previously, it’s good to distance oneself emotionally. But apart from that, sometimes it’s just a question of letting a tantrum run its course and acting in ways that will encourage the child to return to normal as quickly as possible.What you can do is not lose your calm when a child is having a tantrum. As the child is spinning out of control, you should remain calm.If you have a strong reaction such as frowning or getting upset, this will just upset the child more and perpetuate the tantrum. It’s easier for the child to calm down if you are calm.Also, it’s essential to act with compassion. That means considering the situation from the child’s perspective.What if you’re having fun at the playground and then decide it’s time to go home? Of course, you would be upset! It’s important to acknowledge that the child is confused for a good reason and that the playground is fun!Instead of reassuring the child, let him or her know that you can only spend so much time at the playground and that the time is up, instead of going straight to the next time that he or she gets to spend at the playground, be clear of the limits.Connected to acting with compassion is recognizing the child’s desires and feelings. Acknowledging how much the child likes the playground, for example, will help your child because part of the tantrum is letting you know how important something is.It’s essential to honour the child’s feelings while also presenting a limitation: “I understand how much you like the playground, but it’s getting dark, and we have to go home!”It’s possible to establish these limitations without making the child feel ashamed or worried. It’s just a statement of fact, not a judgment.Redirection or distraction is the best way to deal with a child’s tantrum; it usually works with children younger than two and a half years. Distraction helps to teach the child the value of momentarily thinking or doing something else when the problem appears unsolvable. Like something your kid likes, such as reading a favourite book or going for a walk. You can also ask the child if he or she wants a hug.Offer children ways to express their frustration! It’s sometimes just a matter of teaching toddlers words that encapsulate what they are feeling or, for more physical kids, an opportunity to take out their aggression by tearing paper or throwing a pillow or working through their frustration in clay.Never give in to your child during a tantrum and never punishes him/her as this may lead to more frustration during the process of self-learning.If redirection doesn’t work, make space and time for yourself!. As long as your child is in a safe space, take a time-out to decompress and recharge. Removal of positive parenteral helps deescalate the tantrum in 25–80% of cases.
What Can I Do About Public Tantrums?
When children have public tantrums, it’s best to ignore them. If the situation escalates, take the child to a private space and do your best to de-escalate the situation. Once the tantrum is over, go back to what you were doing, so the child learns that the tantrum is not a long-term solution to escape.
When Is It Necessary To Get Professional Help?
Over time, a child’s self-control should get better. Usually, they start to become less frequent as kids approach preschool age.If your child is still having trouble verbalizing, causing harm to themselves or others, or if tantrums are getting worse, it’s time to consult with your physician.Children are very responsive to assistance, and children can become less prone to tantrums over time.Although tantrums are not pleasant, they are a manifestation of your child’s development, and this self-expression is vital to their success and well-being.Dr.Eman Sedky has medically reviewed the article.
As a parent, you don’t have to be hard on yourself based on your child’s temper tantrums. Almost every toddler has tantrums, and as they grow up, they gain self-control.Eventually, they learn to collaborate, communicate, and deal with exasperation. With the tips and tricks mentioned above, you can easily tame your kids’ temper tantrums and, in the process, become much more happy and cooperative parents 🙂
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