All households are familiar with tantrums; only their manifestations differ! One child may insist on wearing the same pair of jeans the entire week and another may refuse to brush her teeth. When tantrums are displayed in social gatherings or in public places like malls and parks, it can be rather embarrassing for parents. However, rest assured,
you are not alone!
The genesis of tantrums
Between the ages of one and two, many children display their first genuine temper tantrum. Usually it could be precipitated due to thirst, hunger, sleep, or exhaustion. At this age, children lack the vocabulary to articulate and so they scream or throw things.
The child may have experienced anger before the age of one and a half years; but, as her ability to anticipate becomes more precise, she feels disappointment more keenly. Clearer expectations mean that frustration is that much sharper. At first, these feelings of anger are directed mostly at objects — a toy stuck behind a chair, or a puzzle piece that won’t fit. Increasingly though, some of the children’s anger is directed at parents. For example, when
mom refuses to open the refrigerator door or ends bath time fun.
Can tantrums be prevented?
There may be no fool proof way to prevent tantrums, but there’s plenty you can do to encourage good behaviour even in young children.
• Be consistent – Establish a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect. Stick to the routine as much as
possible, including meal times and bed time. Set reasonable limits and follow then consistently. (In this context, it is
pertinent to mention that the parents of children older than two years should either gradually make the child forego the afternoon nap or reduce it, to avoid bed time battles and late evening grogginess).
• Plan ahead – Run errands when your child isn’t likely to be hungry or tired. If you expect to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.
• Encourage your child to use words – Young children understand many more words than they are able to articulate. If your child is not yet speaking or not yet speaking clearly, teach her sign language for words such as “I WANT”, “MORE”,“DRINK”, “HURT”, and “TIRED”. As your child gets older, help her to put feelings into words. • Let your child make choices – Avoid saying “NO” to everything. Give your toddler a sense of control by letting her make choices. “Would you like to wear your red shirt today or your blue shirt?” “Would you like to eat a boiled egg or an omelette?” “Would you like to play inside or outside?” (weather permitting, of course!)
• Praise good behaviour – Pay extra attention when your child behaves well. Give your child a hug or tell your child how proud you are when she shares or follows directions.
• Avoid situations that are likely to trigger tantrums – Don’t give your child toys that are far too advanced for her. If your child begs for toys or treats when you shop, try to steer clear of areas with these temptations. If your toddler acts up in restaurants, choose places that offer quick service.