My Boy/Girl Throws Tantrums – What to do?

Tantrums have many forms. If you have a child between the age of 1yrs to – 5yrs, then you know what I am talking about.

You might see crying, screaming, kicking, falling down, or running away. In some cases, children hold their breath, vomit, break things or get aggressive as part of a tantrum.

This behaviour is common among toddlers and preschoolers.

So what can you do about it?

Here are the best explanations that will help you deal with your child’s tantrums –

Why does your child throw tantrums?

Tantrums are fairly regular in kids aged 1-5 years.

But why?

It is because between the age of 1 – 3 yrs a child’s emotional and social skills are starting to develop. Not only that, a child in this age group is also learning language skills and has limited words or doesn’t have words to express big emotions.

But interestingly, as the child develops and grows, she wants more independence. However, she also has the fear of separation from her mother or father. The child also discovers that she can change the world around her due to her behaviour (tantrums).

As a matter of fact, children manage and express feelings via tantrums. Furthermore they know that this is a tool to change the world around them.

Sometimes, older kids can have tantrums too. It is observed that such kids haven’t learned more appropriate ways to express or manage feelings. Additionally, some older children might be slower than others to develop self-regulation.

What makes tantrum happen?

The following applies to both toddlers and older children:

Temper – Stress, hunger, tiredness and overstimulation – these make it harder for children to express and manage feelings and behaviour.

Understand and be in touch with your child’s feelings. When you’re aware of your child’s feelings, you might be able to sense when big feelings are on the way.

Sometimes children cannot cope with situations. For example, if a toddler is being forced to vegetables which she may not like. Or if a toy is being taken away from a toddler by an older child.

Strong emotions – Children can also experience feelings like worry, fear, shame and anger. Such feelings can be overwhelming. A child starts to develop self-regulation from around 12 months. By this age children start to learn to manage behaviour and reactions.

As the child grows older, she’ll be more able to regulate her reactions and calm down. You’ll see fewer tantrums as a result.

Discuss Emotions – The more you encourage your child to talk about emotions, the better. When your child struggles with a difficult feeling, encourage her to name the feeling. Ask what caused it.

For example, ‘Did you throw your books because you were hungry? Or did you throw your toy because you were angry because it wasn’t working? What else could you have done?’

Sometimes tantrums happen, no matter what you do to avoid them.

Ideas to handle tantrums:

Once a tantrum has started it’s too late to calm down.

So you need to stay calm instead. If you are also reaching your threshold, pretend to stay calm. Otherwise, it becomes a struggle for control and power. And the child will end up throwing more tantrums to win. Eventually it becomes harder for you and your child.

Take a moment for yourself if you need to. Then if you need to speak to the child at all, keep your voice calm and act deliberately and slowly.

Admit and accept your child’s difficult feelings. For example, ‘It’s very upsetting when your toy breaks, isn’t it?’

This can help the child to start expressing her feelings and send the message that you understand why she is upset. This gives your child a chance to reset emotions.

Wait till the tantrum subsides. Stay close to your child. She needs to know you’re there. But don’t try to reason with her or distract her.

Take charge when you need to. If the tantrum happens because your child wants something, don’t give her what she wants.

If your child doesn’t want to do something, use your judgment. For example, if your child doesn’t want to clean her room, it might be better to do it with her to tell her that you are not forcing her, but its a group activity.

Be consistent and calm in your approach. If you sometimes give your child what she wants when she has tantrums and you sometimes don’t, the problem could get worse.