Are you a parent who has ever experienced the embarrassment of their toddler throwing a temper tantrum at a party or in public? If so, you are not alone. Temper tantrums are a common occurrence in children between the ages of 2-4 years old. These emotional outbursts can be triggered when a child is unable to regulate their anger and are not given what they desire or prevented from doing something they want to do.
As a parent, it can be exhausting and frustrating to deal with a temper tantrum, but it is usually nothing to worry about. In this blog post, we will discuss the causes of temper tantrums, how to deal with a temper tantrum episode, and how to prevent another episode from happening.
Causes of Temper Tantrums
There are several reasons why a child may throw a temper tantrum, including:
- Unable to do something that the child wants to do
- Asked to do something the child doesn’t want to do
- Extremely exhausted, over-excited, or hungry and unable to express that normally
- To seek attention from parents
- Has found out from experience that tantrums may be rewarded
Dealing with a Temper Tantrum Episode
Temper tantrums typically happen in three stages:
Stage 1: Screaming, Yelling, Crying, and Whining During this stage, you can either take the child to a different place that is uninteresting but safe. Distracting the child and engaging them in a different activity might take their minds off the reason why they were throwing tantrums. If the child is a little older and can understand you, negotiate with them and offer an alternative to what the child is asking.
Stage 2: Falling on the Ground, Continuing to scream, stamping on the floor, and rolling even after trying to distract them or trying to negotiate with them At this point, show no regard to the child’s attention-seeking behavior. Ignoring the child is the best thing to do. Stay calm and show no emotions.
Stage 3: Continues to whine At this point, the child has stopped yelling and crying after your intervention or negotiation. But, is still whining, then physically comfort and soothe the child. Nurture the child and provide alternate options/activities.
Preventing Another Episode of Temper Tantrums
As a parent, there are several things you can do to prevent another episode of temper tantrums, including:
- Help the child recognize their emotions and understand how they are feeling. Avoid taking the child out, especially shopping, if they are too hungry, sleepy, or exhausted. Don’t force the child to do things they don’t want to do, especially when they are sleepy, tired, or hungry. Pay attention to the needs of your children. Follow a proper routine for their sleep and meals, so that they know what to expect throughout the day.
- Give the child a choice/option in little things and make them feel a little bit in control. For example, you can ask your kid, “Do you want an apple or a banana?”. Sometimes kids throw tantrums when they feel like they have no say in anything.
- Don’t give a child a choice when there is no choice. For example, say, “It’s bedtime” instead of “Do you want to go to bed now?”
- Have realistic rules for your child. Communicate these rules to the child frequently, as they often tend to forget them.
- If your child is following the rules and practicing positive behavior, it has to be appreciated and rewarded. This motivates the child to stick to positive behavior.
- Teach your children how to express their emotions/feelings with words rather than throwing tantrums.
When to consult your Paediatrician?
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that you call your pediatrician or family physician if:
- Tantrums get worse after age 4
- Your child injures themselves or others or destroys property during tantrums
- Your child holds their breath during tantrums, especially if they faint
- Your child also has nightmares, reversal of toilet training, headaches, stomachaches, anxiety, refuses to eat or go to bed, or clings to you