“Don’t throw tantrums!” Haven’t we all been reprimanded by our parents for throwing a fit during our childhood days at least once? Well, now that we may be parents ourselves, we may know how hard it may be to tame tantrums in children. Sometimes, kids demand a new, toy or gadget, or they behave cranky and aggressive in order to draw attention. But as parents, you need to know how
to handle temper tantrums in toddlers.
What do you mean by temper tantrums?
If you are wondering what defines temper tantrums, here’s how Dr Himani Narula, Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrician, defines it.
“Temper tantrums are behavioural episodes which are characterized by extreme anger and frustration. The child may express their frustration by screaming, by
throwing away their body violently or by excessive crying. They may throw things, fall on the floor, bang their limbs or head against the floor,” Dr Narula, co-founder of Continua Kids, tells Health Shots.
While parents may feel worried, temper tantrums are natural behaviours.
Children in their early childhood and toddler years are learning to be autonomous and independent, thereby trying to create their identity separate from their
parents is the basis of tantrum.
Children may throw a temper tantrum to gain attention from parents or to manipulate the situation that suits them. In children with delayed communication the temper tantrums maybe worse because of their inability and frustration to not being able to communicate effectively. Certain conditions like hunger, lack of sleep, exhaustion or sickness can trigger a temper tantrum. However, it is not a sign of faulty parenting.
1. Stay calm and composed
It is important for parents to stay calm and composed. Do not hit your child, scream or shout at the child during an episode of temper tantrums. The child observes the parent clearly and learns to express anger the way the parent does. Hence, if a parent shouts, screams or bashes the child, the child may copy that in future. “They will do this when they get angry or frustrated. They learn this as a method to express their own anger,” adds Dr Narula.
Staying calm is vital. It is important for the parent to set a precedent for the child by modeling excellent communications skills.
2. Avoid getting into an argument with the child
Don’t raise your voice in front of them. Toddlers can even read our facial expressions. It’s important for to teach our child to use the right way to express their emotions. Hence, teaching them to communicate well can help reduce their temper tantrums.
3. Give them positive attention
Attend to your child’s needs by providing them with positive attention, by reading, playing with them and by including them in routine activities.
4. Regulate screen time
Avoid excessive screen time and exposing them to violent content on the screen, suggests the expert. Excessive screen watching can lead to irritability, inattention, and addiction which may in turn lead to increased tantrums and violent behaviour in children.
5. Teach children to express themselves in words
Parents must teach children to share their feelings by using words. It’s alright for the child to make choices and for parents to allow them to do so where it is acceptable.
6. Having regular routines
Plan fixed mealtimes and nap times. Eating healthy food and snacks can help a child be healthier, energetic and playful, thereby indirectly helping us to keep the tantrums low.
What if your child is throwing tantrums in public?
Sometimes, parents may observe a child throwing temper tantrums in public places such as malls, weddings, birthday parties and family get-togethers.
“This is because the child is overstimulated and may tend to get tired very easily,” explains Dr Narula. She adds that in such settings, they may use tantrum as a method to gain their parent’s attention.
Again, avoid screaming, shouting or scolding the child in such situations as it may aggravate the temper tantrum and impact their self-esteem.
“Repeated episodes of scolding, shouting, raising voice, hitting, or smashing the child for a temper tantrum may impact the mental health of a child on a
long-term basis,” says Dr Narula.
* It can have a bad influence on their personality their self-esteem and confidence
* They tend to develop self-doubts, may become shy overtly introvert
* They may lack confidence in interacting with others.
A quick strategy to keep in mind for managing temper tantrums would be get “RIDD” of your child’s tantrums.
R: Remain calm.
I: Ignore the tantrum.
D: Distract the child.
D: Do say ‘yes’ when meeting the child’s physical and
safety needs, but do not concede to all their demands.