How to manage tantrums of 2-3 year olds
Temper tantrums of a 2-3-year-old child are a part of their growing up years. It is a form of venting out their frustrations for something that could be bothering them.
Lying down on the floor, kicking and yelling, stamping their feet and bringing the house down with their cries are a way toddlers in their 'terrible twos' and 'three-nager' years relieve their emotions and stress physically. It can get embarrassing for a parent if the child decides to throw a tantrum in public. Believe me, you are not alone, as almost every parent in the world has probably had to manage a toddler in meltdown mode at the supermarket!
While disciplining a child is of prime importance in a parents life, it is imperative to understand that discipline does not necessarily mean we have to take harsh methods. Much as we would be tempted to take the easy way out by giving them time out sessions, we've got to understand that there could be a deep rooted issue why the child is resorting to a tantrum.
Here are some simple tips to help you deal with a child's tantrums and resolve the situation:
1. Give dedicated attention on a daily basis
Whether you're a working or stay-at-home parent, no matter how much time and attention you devote to your little one, there are going to be instances where they're going to ask for more. You will notice that these tantrums usually occur on days when you're either preoccupied with something or putting in long hours in the office. If you set aside a daily routine of spending at least 10-15 minutes with the child doing the things he loves, by giving him undivided attention and by consciously putting the mobile phone away, chances are that he's going to respond better.
2. Give lead times
Friends and cousins coming over for parties and picnics can get very exciting for our kids. They will run, romp and play and suddenly everyday rules don't apply. They are so excited to be among their cousins and friends that if you remind them about their mealtime they get super upset with you for tearing them away from all the fun, and then the tantrums begin. Being over excited is going to be a natural element here. So how you can handle tantrums is by giving the child some lead-time. Tell him Ten minutes to go and we sit down for lunch. Chances are your child is going to say a big and defiant NO. At this point, you ask your child to tell you when he would like to sit down for his meal. Let him decide and then politely remind him again when it is time to eat.
3. Learn to identify triggers and prepare accordingly
After a while, you will be able to identify when her tantrum is to seek attention or because she is tired, hungry or sleepy. This usually happens when the child's routine has had some disturbances for instance, a trip to the supermarket took longer than usual and it's past her dinnertime. In such cases, be prepared- carry her favourite toy in your bag or give her a yummy snack for her to nibble on during the drive back home and engage with her through a game or conversation.
4. Name it to tame it
As adults, we can talk to a friend or spouse and share our feelings as we have the power of words and language. Children as little as 2-3 years of age are still learning to use words to be best of their ability. At times they are just not able to describe what they are feeling. Are they feeling sad? Are they feeling angry? Ask them to name their feelings. When a child tends to label her emotions, she's able to deal with them better and it helps you understand her as well.
5. Be empathetic
Dealing with tantrums is going to be an on-going process for you as it will keep cropping up at various stages in life. Children throw tantrums for various reasons as we discussed above. No matter how hard it may be for you, remember to keep reassuring your child that you're there for him so that he doesn't feel insecure. Try and empathise with him and understand the emotional needs underlying the tantrums. Place yourself in his place to understand what could be bothering him. Is it that he's uncomfortable in his clothing, is his tummy hurting or has he just had a fight with his sibling whos refusing to share a toy?
While there are no quick fix solutions to dealing with a child's temper tantrums, being aware and calm at such times by using some simple tips like giving them lead time, fixing up a treat, paying attention and of course praising them when they are well behaved can gradually help pull your child out of his tantrum zones.
Tanya is a graduate in Sociology from Sophia College, Mumbai and a post-graduate in Communications and Media from SNDT Women's University in Mumbai. She started her career 16 years ago by writing children's books, e-learning, content management for international websites and magazines and writing lifestyle and feature articles. She's the founder of The Lifestyle Portal an e-publishing platform that focuses primarily on entrepreneur profiling, entrepreneur directory listing, workshop reviews, feature stories and more. Shes also a Certified Parent-Child Play Practitioner and a Certified Story Teller.
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