Temper tantrums don’t just occur during the “terrible twos”, but are actually common from around 12 months up to 4 years, according to the physicians at KidsHealth.org. “Every day, little by little, they’re mastering new abilities and accomplishing new feats, and are anxious and excited to use these new skills.”
Tantrums are not uncommon in young children who are testing new boundaries and discovering the world around them doesn’t always operate the way they want it to.
Part of the strategy for dealing with temper tantrums is learning to avoid them in the first place by reading your child and knowing her personality and needs.
Learn what triggers your toddler into a temper tantrum
Learn to read your child and the different things in her world she’s reacting to:
Frustration with her difficulty or inability to tell you what she wants or needs
Asserting her independence
Feeling lack of control
Needing stronger or fewer limits
Combination of hunger, fatigue, overstimulation, and boredom
Tips for dealing with temper tantrums:
Prevention. Plan outings for after snack or naptime and don’t overschedule. If you have to go out, take snacks and drinks with you and plan for sufficient car time that your little one can nap on the way, and plan to leave before your child starts getting tired, hungry or bored.
Keep your cool. It is really important to keep your own temper in check. “Kids can sense when parents are becoming frazzled and this can just make their frustration worse.” This may mean you need to put your child in a safe place and take a time out yourself.
Ignore it. This is a key tactic when the temper tantrum is an attention getting mechanism and the tantrum poses no threat to your child or others.
Empathize with your child. Say something like “I know you’re feeling angry about that, but hitting is not the right thing to do.” A calm voice, with you down on their level goes a long way towards calming them down.
Reward wanted behavior. Your child will learn the good behavior that you want even if it’s something like “Thank you for calming down.”
Let your child choose. Let him choose whether the red shirt or the blue. Let him choose whether to watch a program on TV or a movie. Children of this age long for that little bit of self-control and confidence from doing something themselves -- including making ordinary decisions.
Be Consistent. Consistency enforces that you’re in charge. You also need to learn when to pick your battles and let some things go. It’s tricky to get the balance just right.
Distract. Humor, music, activity, silliness and reverse psychology can usually distract your toddler or young child from his tantrum.
“If temper tantrums are becoming more frequent, they haven’t stopped by around age 4, or your child is in danger of hurting herself or others, it’s time to call your pediatrician.” (1)