Tantrums represent a child’s way of communication being upset in the absence of matured language or expressive skills. They can involve sudden bursts of anger, frustration and disorganised behaviour.
The child may demonstrate cats of crying, screaming, kicking, falling down, flailing about or running around. Sometimes, they may hold their breath, vomit, break things or get aggressive. It is also a learned behaviour.
Why do tantrums happen?
Tantrums are very common in children aged between 1-3 years because, at this age, the child’s social and emotional skills are only just starting to develop at this age. Children have not learnt enough words to express their emotions yet.
There are some factors which may make a child more likely to throw a tantrum:
- Stress, hunger, tiredness or being overstimulated. In these situations, a child is more likely to throw a tantrum
- Situations that children just can’t cope with. A child may not be able to do a puzzle or had a toy taken by another child
- Each child has different ways of reacting to being upset or frustrated
How to reduce the chance of tantrums
Here are some things you can do to make tantrums less likely to happen:
- Reduce stress or tiredness. Let your child sleep when he/she is tired.
- Tune in to your child’s feelings. Help your child manage his/her feelings in a calm manner
- Identify tantrum triggers so that you can prepare ahead. If your child throw tantrums when you do grocery shopping, it might help to go after your child has had a nap and a snack.
- Talk about emotions with your child. For example, ‘Did you throw your puzzle because you were upset you could not fix it? What else could you have done?’
How to handle tantrums
Sometimes tantrums will happen, no matter what you do to avoid them. Here are some tips to handle tantrums:
- Stay calm and do not get angry because it will make the situation worse. Keep your voice calm and avoid showing your emotions of frustration or anger
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings to prevent the behaviour from getting more out of control. It also gives your child a chance to calm down
- Wait out the tantrum but stay close to your child so that he/she knows you are around
- Try not to give in to what your child wants but instead reason with him/her
- Do not give rewards to manage the tantrum as it will send a wrong message to the child
- Be consistent and calm in your approach
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