Tantrums can be seen in kids of all ages, sometimes in adults too. However, it is more commonly seen in pre-schoolers and young kids, meaning children up to 6 years of age. According to the dictionary, tantrums are basically an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child.
I remember reading somewhere, tantrums come in all shapes and sizes. It is basically what we get to see when a child cannot handle the situation any more. Commonly we see crying, shouting, throwing things, hitting, sprawling themselves on the floor, running away and sometimes even breaking things.
Tantrums commonly happen in the pre- schooler age, because that is when the child starts to develop his social and emotional skills. At this small age, children are unable to put their feeling in words and so all these reactions. This is also the age when we see our kids wanting to be more independent. They start having a mind of their own, but at the same time they have the fear of being away/ separated from you and thus all the anxiety. If not handled at the right age, tantrums can continue in older children as well, which then becomes even more difficult to handle.
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As a parent, I have noticed that there are certain common triggers that lead to tantrums. The most common being, tiredness, inadequate sleep, hunger, over- stimulation; emotions like fear, shame. And sometimes it is the child’s natural temperament that leads to tantrums.
As I said earlier, even we adults can have tantrums when not able to deal with a particular situation. But, over a period of time, we learn how to react and deal with all of that. Trust me when I say this, handling tantrums is not easy. In fact, it is very tricky. Dealing with a tantrum in a proper way is of utmost importance so that our kids learn the same. Let’s take a look at a few pointers.
- First and foremost, identify the triggers. Especially when it comes to hunger, tiredness and over- stimulation. Make sure to stick to their daily routine. Children function better when they have a set schedule.
- Be in sync with your child’s feelings. Try and understand or even better help your child put his feelings into words. For example, instead of saying I told you not to do so/ I told you so, ask are you upset because your snack fell down? Give cues to your child for him to better understand what and how he is feeling at that moment.
- Talk emotions with your child. Encourage him to explain as to why he threw that particular tantrum. For example, my 27-month-old cries and shows anger when he is not able to complete a particular task. Like he is not able to finish his puzzle or find the pair. So, I ask, are you upset because you couldn’t find the pair?
Now coming to HANDLING TANTRUMS as a parent.
- The best thing that you as a parent can do is STAY CALM. Your child is already stressed dealing with his own emotions, so your anger is not going to do any good. Take a deep breath, and take a moment. Try and figure out what is wrong and then deal with it slowly and at ease. I know it is easier said than done, but then it is the best thing you can do at that particular point. Oh, and lot many times, you will have to even pretend to be calm!!!!
- ACCEPT your child’s emotion at that particular time. Be aware of his feeling. Accept that you can’t control his emotions. Let him know that you understand what he is going through. Saying ‘Its OK. Even I feel upset when I am not able to complete my puzzle is much better than saying what’s wrong? why are you behaving like this?’
- LET THE TANTRUM PASS. And I abide by this. Wait out the tantrum. Just be there. Let your child feel your presence. Do not try to reason or distract, as the child is not going to give in, in this outburst of emotions. So, let the tantrum pass and then talk to your child.
- BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR APPROACH. Change takes time. It is going to be several attempts before your child learns to deal with all of this. If sometimes you give in to his tantrums and other times you don’t, the situation might get worse. Do not confuse your child even more. Also use your judgement when coming to a solution. For example, my son cries every single day when asked to come out of his bath tub. What do I do? I simply, turn off the shower/ tap and tell him that the water is finished. This way sometimes, I avoid the tantrum and at other times I wait for him to understand that no water means no bath.
- Oh, and yes, be conscious of NOT REWARDING THE TANTRUM. The other day my daughter was crying for a toy she already has, but wanted one in another colour. Buying her the toy would make her feel that crying can get her whatever she wants. Do not do that. Be firm with your answer. A no means no. Do not follow a yes with a no.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Never think that your child is doing all of this deliberately. They just don’t have the knack to deal with it. And never laugh at their tantrums. I know it can be funny at times, but it might upset your child even more. And we do not want to complicate an already complicated situation. As a non-parent I used to often judge the parents in these situations. But now when I am on the other side of coin, I have stopped doing that. It is not about how many tantrums your child throws, it is about learning to tackle it in the right away.
About The Author
Gayatri is from Pune. A fauji brat and now a fauji wife. Professionally a Community Rehabilitation Physiotherapist, but now a happy SAHM to Saanvi (7 years old) and Anay (27 months old). Being a SAHM gave her the opportunity to connect with a passion for blogging and motherlymess.com. My blog is my space, where I share my thoughts on parenting, lifestyle, product reviews and much more.