TEMPER TANTRUM IN TODDLERS
A temper tantrum is a behavior by which a toddler exhibits his or her protest and it ranges from crying, screaming, hitting to breath holding, head banging or even rolling on the floor.
It is equally common amongst boys and girls and the common age group is between 1 and 4 years.
Tantrums are a part of normal development and need not be looked upon as negative behaviour but requires appropriate, sensitive and sensible management.
Tantrums peak during that developmental phase when a child understands a lot more than he or she is able to express. The prime reasons may be :-
- Frustration resulting from lack of expression of needs.
- Need to have independence in day to day activities.
- Demanding parents and their over disciplining methods.
The following reasons may precipitate a tantrum
- Frustration when not getting his or her demands
- ‘’Attention seeking’’
“Prevention is better than cure” – so how does one prevent a tantrum???
- Giving attention for the child’s positive behaviour in order to avoid attention seeking behaviour/ tantrum
- Encourage the child to be independent in little chores of daily life. Allow choice making in simple things like dress, food, play activity etc., to make him/ her feel important and responsible.
- Move from teaching simple skills to complex ones to avoid frustration
- Involve the child in planning any outing or activity based on his/her mood and fatigue level. Do not expect them to follow strict social rules at all times
- If the child’s demands are reasonable, it is better to accept rather than to refuse.if not it results in a mess for both the child and the parents
- If there is a premonitory symptom of a tantrum, one can distract the child and give him/her a new toy or enjoyable activity or just change the environment and monitor for the change
- Prepare the child for places where he/ she might throw a tantrum, eg. Shopping, social gatherings etc.,
If still , there is a tantrum , how does one manage it???
- The most important thing to keep in mind for the parent is , “To keep calm and cool and stay in control”. A parent’s frustration will aggravate the tantrum.
- Parents must look for the precipitating cause and manage accordingly
- The child should not be punished. Hitting or spanking is of no use as the parent is the role model for the child
- If the reason is attention seeking or for unreasonable demands, then the parent must continue their activities paying no attention to the child , even avoid eye contact
- But make sure that one parent stays around and do not leave the child alone as during the tantrum the child will be in an emotional outburst status which would be worsened by loneliness
- If there is a risk of hurting himself or others , or in the event of a tantrum in a public place, the child has to be taken to a calm place and allow him/ her to settle and talk to him about the behaviour once he/ she has settled
- Do not give in to the unreasonable demands , this will mean you are rewarding the tantrum. This will teach the child to use tantrums to manipulate those around him and his environment. Possibilities are that such behaviour may continue even into adulthood
- If the tantrum involves the child’s safety issue then, physical restraint or a brief period of “time out”may be required
After storm ……. it must be calm…. so, what does one do???
- Make sure that the parent’s looks and body language indicate that he/ she is willing to comfort and support the child
- The child has to be praised verbally and given reassuring hugs to show that the parent ishappy that the child has regained his or her control
- The parents must talk to the child later about the behaviour and explain tantrums are incorrect and also about appropriate behaviour which would make them feel happy
So, when will a tantrum require medical attention ???
- Tantrums increasing in frequency, intensity and duration
- Child frequently hurts himself or others
- To rule out physical problems like earache, headache, pain abdomen or vision issues as cause of tantrum
- Underlying behavioural or mood disorders
- Child is in ‘’Demolition – man mode ‘’
Tantrums usually settle as communication improves .Children gradually settle down with their peer group and academic and family settings as they grow up.
GOLDEN RULES IN DEALING WITH A TEMPER TANTRUM
- Remember that you are the role model for your child
- Stay in control and only then you can think of controlling your child or the tantrum
- Encourage positive behaviour to help them exhibit more of good behaviour
- Avoid criticism and punishment
- Express to the children that you love them a lot and you only hate the inappropriate behaviour
Don’t you feel we can modify the old saying’’ Spare the rod and spoil the child” to ‘’ Spare the rod and mould the child’’
forwarded and recommended by: Dr. Sailakshmi, Ekam Foundation