What are tantrums?
Temper tantrums range from whining and crying to screaming, kicking, hitting, and breath holding. They’re equally common in boys and girls and usually happen between the ages of 1 to 3. They are a normal part of a child’s personal, social and emotional development.
Why do children have tantrums?
Tantrums are a child’s way of showing they’re upset or frustrated. They can occur when children are tired, hungry, or uncomfortable; or because they can’t get something (for example, an object or an adult to meet their needs). Learning to deal with frustration is a skill that children gain over time.
How should you react to a tantrum? Understanding how to deal with the first few tantrums is key. It is also important to recognize the signs of a tantrum as prevention is better than cure! Realize that tantrums are an expression of acute frustration. They deserve a minimum amount of attention (children should not feel that they get more of your attention by having a tantrum).
The more attention you give to a tantrum, the more the child learns that they can get a reaction from Mum and Dad. You can reassure your child. Tell them that everything is fine, etc. However if you start to react in either a concerned or perhaps angry way, there is a possibility that the tantrums will both escalate and increase in frequency.
Tantrum Tactics and Tips
There are many different tactics you may have heard and it’s difficult to know which ones work best or which ones to follow. Below are some tactics that are key in handling the situation.
Speak soothingly, as hard as it may seem, try to relax. Children play off your emotions. As difficult as the situation may be, try and let your muscles go. Children can sense tension and may get distressed or take the opportunity to act out more, as they know that their behavior is getting a response, no matter how small.
Ignoring the tantrum or distracting the child while they are having a tantrum works well, especially with younger children. Having a routine is key. As the child becomes older, you can prepare them in advance for situations that may trigger tantrums, for example, bed time. “We are going to go to bed soon”.
Bargaining also works with older children too. “Let’s have a bath now and afterwards, Daddy will read you a nice bedtime story”. Giving the child responsibility “Do you want to help me run the bath?” “Shall we give your dolly a bath too?” If the child is younger and unable to communicate their tantrum could be out of frustration for not having their needs met.
It is always a good idea to run through your child’s basic needs. Offer them something to eat, or drink. It may be that the child is tired and needs to rest.
And finally; patience, patience, patience!
Remember to always be consistent!
And lastly never give in!
What not to do:
Don’t say no constantly, say later or after lunch.
Don’t withdraw the request. Never give in to a child; otherwise they will soon rule your home.
Always remember you know what’s best. Children love to spend time with you. Make that time as fun and interactive as possible. And frequently give verbal praise. Remember, you are the parent; you always have the upper hand, even when it feels like you don’t.
Holly Braddock, Centre Manager
- Holly, from Sheffield UK, has worked in the U.K, U.S and now the U.A.E with children from birth – 16 years old, although she specializes in Early Childhood Development. She is currently studying Management in the Early Years and is excited to use her newfound knowledge in the nursery and wants to develop the team. Holly is a big believer in learning through play and is constantly looking for new and exciting ideas to develop the EYFS and extend children’s learning.
Hummingbird Early Learning Centre