How To Prevent Toddler Temper Tantrums!
Most parents have experienced the horror of temper tantrums in toddlers. If you have not yet met this match, prepare yourself because it is coming! No matter how sweet and adorable little Johnny or Janie is, there is a tantrum just brewing under the surface waiting to rear its ugly head. And the only ones (aside from maybe your child) who find the tantrums funny is your parents who are happy to have lived long enough to see you get yours!
The Terrible Twos
When you hear me say toddler tantrums, I bet the first thing that you think of is the terrible twos. Basically, this is a term used to describe 2 year old tantrums. The thing is that it is not only two year olds that face this issue. Three and four year olds do as well, but we will get to that later. Let’s first deal with the two year old tantrums. At this age, a tantrum is not a sign of bad behavior (usually), rather, it is a way of dealing with frustration and stress in the only way they really know how to. Studies show that at this age, a tantrum can actually be beneficial to the child in that is gets rid of tension, lowers the blood pressure and helps them mentally balance themselves out. If the tantrums are more frequent than you feel is normal, try figuring out what the triggers are. If you dig deep you will likely find some sort of stress in their small world that lead to these common physical meltdowns. Prevention and protection are really your only options. Find the trigger(s) and prevent them for occurring. If you cannot prevent the tantrum then make sure they are safe while it is occurring and allow them to let it all out.
The Terrible Threes
You will start seeing a theme here with the “terrible” heading up every section. This is because I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as one age being terrible and the others being smooth sailing. There are “terribles” at every age; it is all a part of living life and growing up. So, once you pass the terrible twos, be prepared for the terrible threes!
Your three year old becomes much more willful then they were at the age of two. By now they are starting to distinguish themselves as individuals who want what they want, when they want. Three year old temper tantrums may still have something to do with stress relief (see the terrible twos), but the majority of the time it is about not getting their way. When they do not get their way you may hear them scream like you never imagined they could! We have all seen the toddler in the grocery store having a meltdown because they wanted some candy and thought to ourselves “not MY child!” Well now it is your child and you need to know what you can do about it. Remember that at three, your child is acting consciously. He or she is choosing not to control their behavior. Knowing this, it is important to set limits and teach them rewards and consequences.
The Terrible Fours
The last set of “terribles” is the terrible fours. (This is not the last age you will have to deal with challenges. The challenges will just change shape after they hit five, but that is a whole other article!) Four year old temper tantrums are even more conscious then three year old tantrums. When children do not get what they want, or feel that they are being treated unfairly, they can become quite the emotional being. This leads to the temper tantrum. At this age you can actually talk with your child about their behavior and expect that some of what you say will sink in. Their brain development has hit an all-time high and they can understand the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. By now you are probably cursing me for not telling you the encouraging part, which is tantrums do get better with time and there are ways to prevent them for all the “terrible” age groups.
The Terribles Prevention
Not every temper tantrum can be prevented, nor should it be. Your child has to let off steam and learn how to control themselves sometimes. However, as a parent I understand that preventing most tantrums is the way to go so that everyone involved can get some peace. Below are some good prevention techniques that I have tried out myself with pretty good success.
BE CONSISTENT This is the most important thing you can do for your child. Get a daily routine going and keep up with it as much as you can. This also means you have to set limits and rules and enforce them the same way each time. Children thrive on consistency. Commitment and Consistency technique fits the bill here.
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO USE THEIR WORDS: This is also something important, and I have found that it worked well for my kids. Often times (Especially at the ages of 2 and 3) your child will have a tantrum simply because they are upset and do not know how to express what they are feeling. When you see your child go into tantrum mode, try to calm them by talking in a comforting and encouraging manner. Allow them to try to express themselves with their words and tell them that their words will get them what they want faster than their actions.
GIVE THEM CHOICES: If you notice, many of your child’s triggers are not getting what they want. You can head off an “I want” tantrum by offering them choices. This gives them a feeling of control and helps them to use their words and act appropriately. For instance, you cannot go outside to play because it is too cold. What would you like to do; read a book or watch your favorite movie? This usually works with all the “terrible” ages and keeps the tantrum at bay.
If you still having problems, consider using language techniques to talk to your toddler. Language techniques like NLP are not new and has been perfected by Chris Thompson in his “Talking to Toddler” audio program. Remember that everything your child does is helping them to grow. Even when things get tough, know that you will get through it with your child if you remain patient. Things will get better before you have to face another crisis!