While tantrums are a good argument for birth control, they're essentially a biological response to anger and frustration, just the same as a yawn is a biological response to being sleepy.
IS THAT REALLY MY CHILD?
A little body in full fury is quite a sight, in fact, you could almost swear that your little angel has been abducted by aliens and replaced with a Tasmanian devil. Tantrums are a perfectly natural part of any toddler's development, and most commonly occur between the ages of one to four. Unfortunately, this means they are inevitable. Your toddler will express a temper tantrum in various different ways, ranging from whining and screaming to throwing things and even holding their breath.
So why does your little one transform into an unreasonable flailing mass of inconsolable screams? Well, at that age, the human brain isn't yet wired for logic and reason. The part of their brain that regulates emotions and governs social behaviour will only begin to develop at around age four. The frustration of not being able to process emotions or communicate feelings leads to an adrenaline fuelled freak-out. The body takes over and all that adrenaline needs to escape. And so it does, without caring if you're safely in the privacy of your home or in full view of the public's prying eyes.
did you know? Scientists analysing the sound of tantrums have concluded that there are no 'phases of a tantrum' ' in fact, the sound of anger and sadness occurs at the same time. Co-author Michael Potegal says, 'Screaming and yelling and kicking often go together. Throwing things and pulling and pushing things tend to go together. Combinations of crying, whining, falling to the floor and seeking comfort ' also hang together.
with toddlers is that they are engrossed in magical thinking. Magical thinking is how children begin to learn and explore the relationships between cause and effect in their world. Little ones will often make connections that, to you, are completely illogical and frustrating. You may wake up to your gutted toddler furious that you went on an epic adventure to the zoo without her, when in fact it was just a dream.
It is quite a risk to spank a wizard for getting hysterical about his hair.
Diana Wynne Jones
Your toddler's desire to be independent and exercise control in exploring their environment can sometimes directly conflict with your desire to keep them safe and well behaved. This will result in a power struggle that ultimately ends in a tantrum. How you deal with the situation is fundamental to how future behaviour could develop. By giving in too often or too easily, while it may seem the most peaceful option at the time, could set your child up for a lifetime of pouting and difficult relationships.
AVOIDING THE TEMPER TRAP
Prevention is always preferable ' not only do tantrums leave you, the parent, shattered, but your child also experiences a range of negative emotion, not the least being embarrassment. Avoid the onslaught by following these tips:
Children love repeats and if they've done something once, they're going to expect to do it again. So, you need to think ahead and communicate. Remember what you did the last time you went to a particular place and if it's not going to happen again, say so ' for example, if you're going to a shopping centre where there's a jumping castle and the last time you were there you allowed your child to spend a good hour bouncing about, make sure you explain you're in a rush and that there isn't time to go on the jumping castle. It's far better to chat about the fun that was had the time before and explain it's not going to be the same this time, than it is to hope your darling won't remember.
Generally, you'll be given ample warning of your child's expectations. A small expression of want or desire will be made long before a tantrum comes to the fore. Listening allows you to talk about the desire long before your child is even aware of it being denied.
Children need to be given fair warning of what is going to happen in their lives. Take the time to explain what you are going to do, when you are going to do it and the events that will happen leading up to each incident in their day; and then listen carefully to responses. For example, explain that when you get home, you will make dinner, then you will all eat dinner together, then you will have a bath, then it will be time to go outside for a few minutes to say goodnight to the garden. After that, it will be time to brush teeth, read a story and then sleep. By explaining what's going to happen, it less likely your little one will moan about the events ' and remember to listen to any note of rebellion while you're explaining so that you can reason with them before their frustration reaches a no-go area.
Keep your word
If you promise your little one a trip to the park, best you keep your word. Setting expectations and not meeting them is a perfect recipe for tantrums. It's better to surprise your little one with treats than to make a promise you may not be able to keep. In the same vein, if you say that you're going home after one more turn on the slide then do so. They will soon know your limits and that you mean business.
If your toddler is fixated on an activity or play thing, try to suggest something even better. Pick an activity you know they enjoy and suggest you do it together, like reading their favourite story or drawing a picture.
Giving your child a choice of little things is an excellent way of allowing them to feel in control. Saying things like 'Which do you want to do first; put on your PJ's or brush your teeth?' will help to avoid uncontrollable power struggles later on.
SURVIVING THE MONSTER
If all your efforts have failed in avoiding the tantrum, here's are some tips to survive the storm:
However difficult, it's important to keep your cool. Getting frustrated and yelling back at your howling child will only antagonise them and prolong the tantrum. If you find your blood boiling and you feel a scream bubbling in your throat, calmly take your own time-out ' but do take a moment to explain why you are walking away and to stay in sight of your child so they don't feel they have been abandoned.
Choose your battles
Giving in might seem like the only way to soothe your little monster but muster your strength and don't give in to demands. This is a quick-fix solution with long term effects. Giving in to tantrums will only teach them that this is a great way to get what they want. However, try in the moment to understand where their frustration is coming from and apologise where necessary.
Leave the scene
Removing your child from the scene of the tantrum is a good way to calm them down ' especially if the tantrum occurs in a public place. Walk them to the bathroom or the car and calmly explain that their behaviour is unacceptable and why you have taken them away.
Once they're removed from the scene and you have coolly explained why, give them the opportunity to wind down and join the party when they're calm. Leave them in a quiet spot to cool off and they will come back to you when they are ready.
Acknowledge the frustration
Respecting your child's emotions will help them to learn that their feelings do matter. Try saying 'That must have made you feel sad' or 'I understand that you are feeling mad'. This will help your little one better articulate how they are feeling in future frustrating situations.
The bottom line is that temper tantrums are a natural course of growing and learning. How you deal with them will determine how both you and your child emerge from the fray. Keeping a cool head and understanding that it's a result of frustrated emotion will go a long way in easing the tension.
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