Tantrums are part of the toddler years as your child discovers their independence, learns to communicate, and figures out how to manage their emotions. Some triggers can make behavior more difficult at times. These include:
1. Tiredness: Ensure your child has the correct amount of day and night sleep for their age and that a bedtime routine is established. Naps are important to restore energy, good mood, and concentration.
2. Under-stimulated/bored: Often, when children are bored, they start to misbehave. If you notice this, you can arrange and set up stimulating activities for your child or play games together.
3. Hunger: Ensure that your child is eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. Children need the energy to play, concentrate, deal with emotions, etc. The behavior can be more difficult if they lack the nutrition they need.
4. Attention seeking: When children do not receive the attention they need, they often resort to negative behavior. Set aside time in the day to do focused activities together. Playing alone is also important, but this works best when they are able to focus and use their imagination. If your child is particularly tired or emotional, then use this time to play calm, relaxed games or encourage activities such as reading.
How to deal with triggers
1. Distract: The best way to react is to move away from the tantrum and begin to play or set up a new game, waiting for your child to come to you. Avoid trying to coax your child over, but instead, let the tantrum happen, giving no attention to it. In most cases, children quickly get bored if they are not receiving any attention.
2. Love and attention: Often, children just need a hug, a story on your lap, or a cuddle with their favorite teddy to help them to deal with their emotions.
3. Firm No: If your child is doing something dangerous or particularly aggressive such as biting/hitting, then you need to make sure that they know that it is unacceptable. Go down to their level, make eye contact, and say a firm ‘NO, do not throw/hit/bite’ and then move on quickly to distract and try not to linger on the behavior. If your child is willing to listen, talking can help let them know that biting/hitting hurts and how it made you feel. Keep any explanation brief and simple, depending on their age.
4. Remove the problem: If possible, remove the reason for the tantrum. For example, if your child keeps asking for chocolate and taking it from the cupboard, then remove all the chocolate and put it out of reach. Or if they keep getting frustrated with a game or a toy, then remove it and hide away for a week. This is not a way of punishing your child but removing the object that causes your child to get upset.
An insight from mamahood
There are many effective ways to understand your little one’s behavior. You can record the pattern of triggers by maintaining a tantrum diary. It is important to be consistent with your approach toward a particular behavior so that your child understands. Create a routine for your child that reduces the common triggers as much as possible. Discuss and decide with your family the boundaries and rules and stick to them. Lastly, talk about their feelings and emotions in simple language and give them ways to express themselves more positively. This could be through music, physical play, art, jumping on a trampoline, etc. If you need more support, please feel free to connect with me through live chat or private mail.