Oh Tantrums...something every parent goes through, right? But why do they happen? What can I do when my child has a tantrum? Hopefully these tips can help you and your child work through tantrums.
First, lets face it, tantrums are not fun. They always seem to happen at the most inconvenient time and place. Maybe it’s at the store or a bank or a hospital. Sometimes it happens in public and that’s when it’s most embarrassing, right? Sometimes children get so out of control that you don’t even recognize your child anymore. They went from being so sweet to a ball of chaos all because you said it’s time to leave the playground and go home. “No! I want to play!”
So why do Tantrums happen?
Well, usually it’s because the child might be hungry, bored, tired, stressed, or overstimulated.
Sometimes, however, it might be their age.
If your child is 18-36 months, then tantrums are normal. Sorry…
During this age kids are trying to figure out their feelings and making their own decisions. It’s a hard life for a 3 year old.
I child might also fall apart if they are trying to succeed at something new. If a child is putting a puzzle together, but can’t quite get his fine motor skills to work he might just burst into tears.
Trying to get along with peers can also set off a tantrum.
How can parents prevent a Tantrum?
First, if you are going out with your child, make sure they aren’t tired, hungry, or uncomfortable. Remember the snickers commercials?
Second, talk to your child. Make it clear that you will not be buying candy at the grocery store. If you do have to go through that aisle have your child close their eyes until you are out, or maybe they can bring their favorite toy with them to hug when they are sad about no candy.
Third, look for warning signs of a tantrum. Sometimes children will start to turn red or their voice will get higher when they are beginning to lose control. If you start to see these signs in your child take a moment to try and calm them down and understand what they are feeling. Use words like mad or sad so he’ll learn to use those words instead of acting out. Lastly, try to stop a tantrum in process with a distraction. Maybe going for a walk or singing a song together will help make them feel better.
How do you handle a Tantrum?
If you can leave the child alone and he is safe, let him be. Let him have his tantrum and walk away. Let him know that you know he can control his feelings and when he does you can talk about it. If it helps him soothe himself you can bring him a blanket or a stuffed animal. If you can’t leave him alone because you are in a public place, try holding him. Sometimes a firm hold or hug can help the child. Or take them to your car or outside to a field or park if close by. If your child starts to kick or hit sit them in your lap and hug his arms and put one of your legs over his legs. The parent needs to make sure that the child can express themselves, but not hurt themselves or others. Let the child know that hitting, biting, or scratching will not be tolerated. Your child might try coming back to you seeking comfort, give them your attention if they are willing to talk without getting upset. If they are still upset and come to you, don’t engage until they have calmed down, if you do engage while he is upset he will most likely fall apart again.
When should I be worried?
Most tantrums last anywhere from 5-15 minutes. If they last longer and happen multiple times a day or a week talk to your doctor. Remember it could also be the age of the child. Also check to see if your child is hungry or tired, this may stop a tantrum from happening, YAY!
Lastly if you are really concerned and would like to have your child evaluated look for a child psychiatrist or psychologist. (Hint: call Help Me Grow if you need helping find this type of resource, we would love to help)
Source: Mastering Anger and Aggression, The Brazelton Way, By: T. Berry Brazelton, M.D. and Joshua D. Sparrow, M.D.