All About KIDS’ Tantrums
Tantrums can be frustrating for any parent. Some kids have tantrums often and others may have them rarely. They are a normal part of a child’s development. Tantrums happen when kids are uncomfortable, tired or hungry and when they cannot get something they want. Tantrums usually occur when the language skills are starting to develop, as kids cannot yet say what they want, need or feel. Tantrums tend to decrease as language skills improve. Tantrums are one of the ways that young children express and manage their feelings and try to understand what is going on around them. Children often do not have the words to express big emotions, as their social and emotional skills are just starting to develop at this age
07 April, 2020
Generally, tantrums are an expression of frustration. Kids may be frustrated by their inability to perform an activity they are attempting, such as closing the water bottle lid. Tantrums are also an expression of frustration at the lack of control they have over their lives, such as at bedtime when they want to continue playing instead of going to bed. Tantrums are also an attempt to gain attention from a parent or others, or an attempt to manipulate the situation in some way. Kids want to be independent but still require continuous supervision and assistance.
Tantrums are, however, not socially acceptable behaviour. The most common problem with tantrums is problems for the parents. Often, tantrums take place in public, which are embarrassing and are harder to deal with calmly. A child’s tantrums may challenge parent’s ability to remain calm. It is distressing to parents.
WHY TANTRUMS OCCUR
Temperament – kids who get upset easily are more likely to have tantrums.
Feelings – stress, tiredness, hunger, etc. makes it harder for kids to express and manage their feelings and behaviour.
Situations – when kids just cannot cope with or handle the situation, tantrums occur, eg. If an older child takes a toy away and younger kid is unable to cope with it.
Emotions – certain emotions like shame, anger, fear, worry are overwhelming for kids and thus tantrums come to their rescue.
Before working on our kids and their tantrums, it is highly advisable that we, parents, should work on ourselves in the first phase to avoid tantrums.
> We need to deal with our own frustrations and anger in an effective manner. We all know that children learn by observation and do what they see.
> Having realistic expectations of childhood behaviour for a given age range reduces frustration for both parents and kids as well.
> We should help our kids develop proper and understandable verbal way of expressing their frustrations. It will only help us to deal with them effectively.
> Seeking out good behaviour and rewarding it, is commonly practised by almost all the parents.
> Giving toddlers control over little things reduces the frustration level of both parents and kids, eg. do not ask – ‘Do you want milk?’ – which is most likely to be answered as ‘no’. Instead, try asking – ‘Do you want banana milk shake or almond milk shake?’. Let the child win the battle and in turn, we will win the war. Toddlers crave control. Try allowing them to make simple choices during the day.
> Knowing your child’s limits is the best way to avoid tantrums in public. If kid is tired, then it is surely not the best time to go grocery shopping.
WHAT SHOULD WE DO DURING A TANTRUM
There is no foolproof way to prevent tantrums, but we can do plenty of things to encourage good behaviour in our kids. Kids, during a tantrum, do not exactly know what they are doing or what they are up to. Just because they are unable to express verbally what they want or need, it takes the form of a tantrum and their frustration comes up. We, parents, have an impeccable role to play during a tantrum.
> We ought to keep our cool while responding to a tantrum. Our own frustration and anger complicates the problem. We need to calm down first in order to help our child learn to calm down.
> Tantrums are normal. We are not bad parents and our kids are not bad children. Shouting at them or hitting them will only make the situation worse. A quiet, peaceful response and atmosphere reduces stress and makes both of us feel better.
> A gentle distraction may be the best option at times, switching to our kid’s enjoyable activity or making a funny voice/face, a joke may change the atmosphere and reduce your kid’s frustration.
> Many-a-times, tantrums occur to seek attention. In order to minimize the tantrum, simply ignore the behaviour of your child and go to another room in the house. Do not talk or react until the behaviour stops. Later, discuss the issue calmly.
> Offer choices when possible. A child who feels independent will be more likely to follow rules when it is a must. Do not offer a choice if one does not truly exist. Make it sound like an invitation and not an order, when asking your child to do something.
> We can view our child’s tantrum calmly and with compassion. Connect with your child and hold your child. Offer comfort and redirection when they are ready.
Temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up. Young children do not plan to frustrate or embarrass their parents. It is their way to express frustration. However, try to be consistent with a daily routine so that your child knows what to expect. You can even encourage your child to use simple words, so that they are able to express – more, drink, tired, etc. Offering extra attention when your kid behaves well and giving them a hug when they follow directions are best ways to praise your kid’s good behaviour. As your child’s self-control improves, tantrums become less common.