Simply put, tantrums go hand in hand with toddlers and preschoolers. From ages 1-3, children’s social and emotional skills are just beginning to develop, and unfortunately, they don’t often have the words to express big emotions (of which there are plenty!) or the ability to manage those feelings. They want more independence but also fear being separated from you. It’s a difficult spot to be in, and as a result… temper tantrums. Here are 5 steps to minimizing these episodes so you both can enjoy this time of growth and change together. Good luck!
First, take a moment for yourself if you need to. A parent’s anger will make the situation harder than it needs to be. When talking to your child, keep your voice calm and level, and act deliberately and slowly.
Acknowledge your child’s difficult feelings. For example, ‘I know it must be upsetting when your ice-cream falls out of the cone.’ This can help prevent behavior from getting more out of control and gives your child a chance to reset their emotions.
Patience is a virtue, they say (and they’re right)! But, do your best to wait out the tantrum. Stay close to your child so she/he knows you’re there. But don’t try to reason with or distract them. It’s too late once a tantrum has begun.
You’re in charge
Take charge when you need to. If the tantrum happens because your child wants something, don’t give them what they want. 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 have a tendency to give mix signals, i.e., you sometimes give your child what they want during tantrum and sometimes you don’t, the problem will only get worse.