Toddler temper tantrums are dreaded by parents and caregivers alike. What are you supposed to do when they melt down? How do you handle a tantrum? Can you prevent one from happening? Parents often ask these questions and sometimes they don’t get the answers they need. Here are some tips on handling that lovely aspect of toddlers: the tantrum.
What Causes Toddlers to Have Tantrums?
There are all kinds of things that can cause toddler tantrums, and what results in a meltdown in one toddler might not even affect another. Sometimes toddlers have tantrums because they are just tired and/or hungry. Other times they may be frustrated that adults don’t understand their limited language. Still other times toddlers may find themselves conflicted over wanting to be independent and needing Mom and/or Dad near.
It’s quite individualized, so it pays for a parent to watch his or her toddler’s behavior and look for cues as to underlying causes.
Chances are you’ve heard this one. But how do you stay calm? What is a parent to do when a tantrum begins and you want to have a tantrum yourself? If you are prepared ahead of time, that will help. But tantrums often come out of nowhere.
It might help if you count to ten before intervening or saying anything. Take a deep breath and remember not to take the tantrum personally. So what if people around you give you judgmental looks? Try to remember that the tantrum will fade in time and you will hardly remember it years or even months from now. Keeping a realistic perspective can help parents handle tantrums calmly.
Show Them the Tantrum
Some parents have had amazing success in taking a video of their toddler having a tantrum, then showing the toddler the video. In this day and age when nearly everyone has a digital device that takes movies, this can be done fairly easily. Interestingly, some toddlers really respond when they see how dreadful their behavior looks when they are having a tantrum.
Teach Them a Better Way
Giving your toddler alternatives to tantrums can help stave off meltdowns. Teach them to do something harmless, like use the words they know for expressing feelings, or doing an angry dance with their arms and legs, or drawing or painting a picture. Redirecting their attention to something else may work for a bit, but not always. In the end, it helps toddlers cope when they have an alternative to resort to besides a tantrum.
Know Your Toddler
If you observe your toddler and really pay attention to his or her body language and sounds, you will probably be able to detect situations that could induce a tantrum. You can then avoid such situations or get ready with an alternative. You could even practice situations that cause a tantrum in order to set your toddler up for success the next time that situation is encountered.