The dreaded 7 letter word…. T-A-N-T-R-U-M

Let me level with you, Declan has been challenging me to the max. He has been having some EPIC tantrums and we all know that when your kid is in the middle of a tantrum that it can be tough to keep yourself from having a meltdown too. Declan has mostly been a very chilled out, calm and sweet little boy but the last few weeks he completely flips his switch if he doesn’t get what he wants. I had no idea that given my 2 year old the wrong color plate, or cutting his cheese into too small pieces could result in such chaos. Tantrums are terrible, nasty and scary things and it is so important to understand why happen and what is the best way to handle them.

Children between the ages of 1 – 4 haven’t developed good coping skills yet, so when they don’t get what they want they tend to just loose it instead. The logical part (aka the frontal cortex) of a human’s brain doesn’t fully develop until age 25, Yep let that sink in… Age 25! Learning to deal with frustration is a skill that children learn over time. Tantrums are most common between the ages of two and three, this also the time when language skills are starting to really develop. Children often don’t have the words to express big emotions and they want more independence but fear being separated from you. They are also discovering that they can change the way the world works. This is a lot for a two year old to handle!

Understanding where they come from and how they are feeling is important but when your toddler is taking a walk in tantrum city in the middle of a crowded mall or grocery store , it can be seriously embarrassing! But it shouldn’t be , ALL children go through some stage of throwing tantrums and it is NOT a reflection on you as parent.

Accept that temper tantrums are developmentally appropriate and, to a point, psychologically healthy. This doesn’t mean that you have to give him what he wants. This process of accepting that he can’t always get what he wants will be something that he struggles with for years to come, I mean I know of quite a few adults that still struggle with this!

These tips below saved my husband and myself and the way that we deal with Declan when he has a tantrum.

1. Keep your cool and deal with the tantrum as calmly as possible. Remember, you are your child’s role model for handling anger.

2. Walk away from him when he is having an outburst. Don’t go too far, but giving him some space has been very beneficial to us and to him.

3. Remain calm even if things get physical. When your child acts out physically, breathe and try to stay as calm as you can.

4. Talk in soothing tones. So important to show them that you are calm and in control
5. Don’t try to reason with a child who’s having a tantrum. He is so emotionally out of control that this won’t work.

6. Acknowledge their feelings .This aligns you with them and sets the stage for him/her to begin to work through his own problems.

7. Avoid tantrum triggers. I have realized that Declan doesn’t like being in over crowded spaces so I now try and avoid shopping malls with him.

So what are your tips on dealing with toddler tantrums?

“When little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, its our job to share our calm, not join their chaos” L.R KNOST

Till next time

Nell-Mari

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