• Madhurima Majumder

Terrible 2s

What to do about tantrums

Tantrums are emotional outbreaks which are likely to happen. We can try to reduce them. There are some pointers which I can suggest and you can follow them to make tantrums less likely to happen:

· Reduce stress. Tired, hungry and over exhausted children are more likely to experience tantrums.

· Tune in to your child’s feelings. You might be able to distract your child.

· Identify tantrum triggers. For example, your child might have tantrums when you’re shopping. You might be able to plan ahead. For example, it might help to go shopping after your child has had a nap and a snack.

· Talk about emotions with your child. When your child struggles with a difficult feeling, encourage him to name the feeling and what caused it. For example, ‘Did you throw your toy because you were cross that it wasn’t working? What else could you have done?’.

Sometimes tantrums happen, no matter what you do to avoid them. Here are some ideas to handle tantrums when they happen:

· Stay calm (or atleast pretend to). Take a moment for yourself if you need to. If you get angry, it’ll make the situation harder for both you and your child. If you need to speak at all, keep your voice calm and level, and act deliberately and slowly.

· Acknowledge your child’s difficult feelings. For example, It’s very upsetting when your ice-cream falls out of the cone, isn’t it?’. This can help prevent behaviour getting more out of control and gives your child a chance to reset emotions.

· Wait out the tantrum. Stay close to your child so she knows you’re there. But don’t try to reason with her or distract her. It’s too late once a tantrum has started.

· Take charge when you need to. If the tantrum happens because your child wants something, don’t give him what he wants. If your child doesn’t want to do something, use your judgment. For example, if your child doesn’t want to get out of the bath, it might be safer to pull out the plug than to lift him out.

· 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.

What are tantrums?

Tantrums come in all shapes and sizes.

They can involve spectacular explosions of anger, frustration and disorganised behaviour – when your child ‘loses it’.

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

Why tantrums happen

Tantrums are very common in children aged 1-3 years. That is the reason it is said “Terrible 2”.

This is because children’s social and emotional skills are only just starting to develop at this age. Children often don’t have the words to express big emotions. They want more independence but fear being separated from you. And they’re discovering that they can change the way the world works.

So tantrums are one of the ways that young children express and manage feelings, and try to understand or change what’s going on around them.

Older children can have tantrums too. This can be because they haven’t learned more appropriate ways to express or manage feelings. Or some older children might be slower than others to develop self-regulation.

Coping with tantrums

Tantrums needs to be dealth with lot of patience and love. Dealing with tantrums can be very draining and stressful too. You might feel you need to step in to end a tantrum straight away. But if it’s safe, it can help to take a breather while you decide how to respond.

Here are some more ideas for staying calm and keeping things in perspective:

· Develop a strategy for tantrums. Have a clear plan for how you’ll handle a tantrum in whatever situation you’re in. Concentrate on putting your plan into action when the tantrum happens.

· Accept that you can’t control your child’s emotions or behavior directly. You can only keep your child safe and guide your child’s behavior so tantrums are less likely to happen in the future.

· Accept that it takes time for change to happen. Your child has a lot of growing up to do before tantrums are gone forever. Developing and practising self-regulation skills are a life-long task.

· Beware of thinking that your child is doing it on purpose or is trying to get you. Children don’t have tantrums deliberately – they’re stuck in a bad habit or just don’t have the skills right now to cope with the situation.

· Keep your sense of humor. But don’t laugh at the tantrum – if you do, it might reward your child with attention. It might also upset him even more if he thinks you’re laughing at him.

· If other people give you dirty looks, ignore them. They’ve either never had children or it’s been so long since they had a young child that they’ve forgotten what it’s like.

· The best part is to ignore a tantrum. Do not give importance. It will subside eventually with time.

The Louder She Yells, the Softer You Should Speak

Your child will end up matching your volume because, ultimately, she wants to engage with you. Remembering that she’s feeling frustrated or sad may help you stay calm. If she loses it at the movies or another public spot, take her outside. Try offering her the option of sitting on a bench or in the car while she settles down. For some kids, having choices like these can help, especially if a lack of control is the reason behind the outburst.

Post-tantrum, follow through with the original demand that started the fit in the first place. If she got upset because you told her to pick up a toy, she should still pick up that toy once she’s calm. If she went off the rails because you said she couldn’t have a cookie, then don’t give her the cookie after the tears stop. Once your child follows through and picks up the toy, praise her. After all, that is the positive behavior you want her to remember and repeat.

Give Your Child Some Space

"Sometimes a kid just needs to get his anger out. So let him!" says Linda Pearson, a nurse practitioner and author of The Discipline Miracle. (Just make sure there's nothing in tantrum's way that could hurt him.) "I'm a big believer in this approach because it helps children learn how to vent in a nondestructive way. They're able to get their feelings out, pull themselves together, and regain self-control -- without engaging in a yelling match or battle of wills with you." This trick can work on its own or in tandem with the whole ignoring bit.

Give a big hug

"This may feel like the last thing you want to do when your kid is freaking out, but it really can help her settle down," Levy says. "I'm talking about a big, firm hug, not a super cuddly one. Hugs make kids feel secure and let them know that you care about them, even if you don't agree with their behavior. "Sometimes I think they just need a safe place to get their emotions out."

Playful Kids or The Terrible 2s....... decide

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