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If you have a toddler, tantrums are a fact of life. Not a funny picture, in the middle of a tantrum it can be tough keeping yourself from having your own meltdown. According to Ray Levy, PhD, a Dallas-based clinical psychologist and co-author of ‘Try and Make Me! Simple Strategies That Turn Off the Tantrums and Create Cooperation,’ meltdowns are a fact of childhood.
This commonly affects kids aged between 1 and 4 years who haven't developed good coping skills yet. They tend to just lose it when they don’t get what they want.
Simply put, toddlers feel so passionately about everything and they simply don't have enough frontal cortex capacity yet to control themselves when they're upset.
Tantrums arise from the frustration youngsters have in communicating a need you don’t understand, and that they don’t yet have the language skills to express it. Managing his or her needs beforehand so they don’t have to cope when one arises will reduce tantrums. For instance, run errands when they are well fed and clean. Pack a few snacks for later and a toy for distraction.
As you work through it, remember not all tantrums are created equal. Gauge and take action.
Below are tried and tested ways to tame those tantrums. ESTHER MUCHENE
- Stay calm
Your child could be having a hissy fit because they want to be removed from a situation or they simply want to be comforted until the hysteria passes. While it is not easy, your job is to remain calm. Remember, their brain isn't really capable of calming them down so when they feel disconnected or overwhelmed, your priority is to calm yourself and reconnect with them.
- Direct and re-direct
If you sense your child is about to have a meltdown, quickly distract them with an activity or toy. This will give them something else to think and focus on as you figure out what could be making them upset. Children have pretty short attention spans which means they're usually easy to divert.
- Understand their frustrations
While tantrums may start with anger, they are often rooted in sadness. Kids can get lost in how big and unjust a situation seems and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Find out what is causing them so much grief and offer a solution. For the younger kids who find it more difficult to communicate, teach them to show you what they want by pointing it out.
- Give them space
Annoying and sad as it may be, sometimes you have take a step back and let them get their anger out. So long as they are not physically endangering themselves or others, let them vent in a nondestructive way. This way they will be able to get their feelings out, pull themselves together and regain self-control without engaging in a yelling match or battle of wills with you.
- Hug it out
While it may be the last thing you want to do to the little monster, hugs really help children to calm down. Without speaking a word, give them a firm hug which will make him or her feel secure and let them know that you care about them even if you don't agree with their behavior.
- Get them out of there
Sometimes all it needs to stop a tantrum is to get the child away from the scene which will help them snap out of it. if the meltdown began over a toy he wants in the supermarket, take him to a different side or outside until he calms down. Changing the venue can impact their behavior.
- Keep them comfortable
The two biggest tantrum triggers are hunger and fatigue. Physically, the kid is already on the brink so it won't take much emotionally to send them over. In short, always ensure they are well fed, dry and well rested.