Luckily not all toddlers have "temper tantrums" but if you are reading this article, well I guess you are part of the unlucky ones. Don't worry tantrums are part of your child's development. It can be horrible to be confronted by your sweet little child being so stubborn and determined to get their own way and they won't back down until they get what they want.
Tantrums are a way for your child to “vent” feelings that are becoming overwhelming for them to be able to handle. If your child is between 18 months to 3 years old, they will rebel against your authority and assert themselves some of the time - this is a normal part of being a toddler.
Toddlers at this stage will display some or all of the following:
- Resentment of any form of control.
- A striving for independence, making more demands and being defiant.
- Swinging back and forth between independence and clinginess.
- Wanting control and trying to control you.
- Constantly saying “No”.
- Generally having tantrums.
Dealing with Tantrums
There are some things that can trigger tantrums in almost any child, regardless of their character. Below are some suggestions and strategies you could use to help avoid the toddler tantrums whenever possible.
- Diversion – Even if you think a tantrum is about to explode, there is often time to divert your child attention. Quickly introduce a new toy or point out something that is happening for your child to see. Simply saying “can you hear that?” - “look at that on top of the tree” can work well in diverting your child's attention.
- Substitution – If you quickly offer your child a toy, they will happily give up what you need. By using this method offer your child a substitution rather than taking something away. For example, if your child draws on tables, offer paper. If your child wants the book you are reading, get another one for your child to look at. Even if you take something away and give your child a substitution, they will still be engaged in what you gave them.
- Spotting a Pattern – If your child has a lot of tantrums, it's a good idea to keep a record of them. When you record your child's tantrums, consider what the situation was just before the tantrum started. By doing this you can see how the tantrum develops and try to stop it. For example, if your child throws a tantrum while you are preparing dinner, offer your child an activity they could do in the meantime or ask your child to help you out.
Below gives you a list of possible tantrum triggers, what may have caused your child to have a tantrum and the solution to handle your child's tantrum. Select which one best suits your child's triggers and try the solution suggested.
Seeking Attention -
Tantrums are rarely done to manipulate parents. If you reward your child with amounts of attention during a tantrum, it can provide a very good reason to have another one.
- Solution: Try not to over react - or make a big fuss when your child throws a tantrum. Act calmly, even though you might not feel it.
Wanting something they can't have -
Your child may insist that they want a new toy or having ice-cream for dinner.
- Solution: Be consistent and forceful when saying no – or in a less negative way use phrases like “You can have an ice-cream later” rather that “No you can’t have it”.
Wanting to prove independence -
Your child will demand to wear an unsuitable item of clothing or refuse to eat a meal you have cooked.
- Solution: Offer choices – whenever possible offer what to eat or wear or what to play with. For example, “would you like to play with the blocks or a puzzle?”
Inner frustrations with own limited ability -
Your child displays determination to complete a task, only to become frustrated when they can't complete it.
- Solution: Keep an eye on your child - so that you are alert to any signals that your child is becoming frustrated. Give your child time to solve the problem by themselves but as soon as you see your child begin to lose control, step in and help.
Often directed at a brother or sister, your child always wants what they have got.
- Solution: Encourage turn taking and sharing – or distract your child with his own toys or activities.
Challenging your authority
Your child may refuse to go to bed or refuse to go to childcare even though they like it there.
- Solution: Give warnings – before moving onto new activities. Say “bed time is in 10 minutes” or “in 5 minutes we have to pack away to go to school”.
None of the above -
Your child just has a tantrum no matter what.
- Solution: Try to pinpoint likely cause of tantrum – offer your child a chance to take more control. For example, if your child doesn't like sitting in the stroller, perhaps they could walk next to the stroller.
There are a number of triggers that could impact your child's tantrums so you need to find the best solution that works for your child. It could be one of the solution listed her or it could be a few. As your child matures, the tantrums will occur less frequently. It is a normal part of your child's development and nothing to worry about...we all did it to our own parents!