"Keep calm even when your toddler is throwing a tantrum."
Ever felt confused and irritated when you see your child crying their eyes out in the middle of the road? Is it a frustrating experience when you can't calm down your child? Does it make you feel helpless when you fail to understand why your child is throwing tantrums?
Tantrums are uncomfortable and troublesome behaviours that often take the form of emotional outbursts. Temper tantrums are common in young children, and it is important to recognise that these episodes are part of normal development. Tantrums are a form of communication where the child tries to express distress, sadness, anger, or fear.
Like adults, children want to be heard and feel validated when expressing themselves. It is not easy for the parents to be available all the time and with patience to attend to the child's tantrums. But can you find a way to acknowledge the child's distress?
Let us help you understand tantrums better.
Why do children have tantrums?
Some of the signs that children with low self-esteem display are as follows:
• Toddlers and young children do not know how to communicate their feelings or needs. As a result, they may burst out with a temper tantrum.
• Children get overwhelmed more quickly than adults due to their inability to express complex emotions like anger and sadness in a way that adults can understand and they have limited ability to understand the consequences of their behaviour.
• Young children often feel frustrated because they can't tell adults what they want or how they feel.
• Usually, when these feelings get overwhelming, they explode with a tantrum.
The need of the hour is for the child to be understood and the distress acknowledged. Acknowledging a child's feelings can be a powerful way of letting them know their emotions are seen and heard. It is important to remember that all emotions are valid, and it can help children learn to express themselves if adults provide a supportive and understanding environment.
What to do when your child is throwing a tantrum
• Stay calm. As a parent, you need to stay calm. Take a minute, breathe, and kmow your child needs calmness from you. Once you are relaxed, try to identify what has triggered your child.
• Get down to your child's eye level. It is also important to remember to get down on your child's level. Gently try to talk them out of the tantrum by asking what is wrong and reassuring them that you are there for them. This helps them know you are on their side.
• Acknowledge their feelings. Help them know what they are feeling by reflecting on their emotions. Show them that you understand and that their feelings are valid. For example, " I know you are sad to leave the park. We will come back again this week." However, remember to follow up on your words or promises and fulfil them. It establishes and maintains trust.
• Set boundaries. Kindly but firmly set boundaries for your child. Explain to them why it is essential and how it will help them. For example, " I know you are sad, but we must go home now to eat. You need food to be healthy and have energy."
• Provide warmth. Offer a hug to your child, sit with them, and let them cry if they want to. You are showing them that emotions are okay while at the same time teaching them boundaries Let them know that it's ok to be sad, and show them that you are there for them, even though it might be hard for you to understand why they feel the way they do.
• Restate the boundary. Show your child that it is okay to be sad, but also let them know that it is not okay to act out aggressively or harm themselves in any way. Tell them you will talk about what upset them when they feel better. Restate the boundary. For example, "Food is very important, and we need some structure for that."
Please give yourself the time to make these changes in how you respond to tantrums. Be sure to emphasise that it's ok for them to be angry, but rules and boundaries still need to be followed. Please be patient and allow some time before you notice a difference in your child's response. It takes time for children to learn and adjust to new behaviours from the parents. Allow at least three to six months to notice a change in your child and remember to be consistent.
Tips for the parents:
Some parents in our parenting workshops have shared tips they used successfully to minimise tantrums.
• Tip 1: Developing a good understanding of their child's psychology, behaviour, and personality. Through developing this understanding, parents can better determine the root cause of tantrums. Or even be able to predict a behaviour/response from the child and preempt it. For example, if the child is displaying tantrums due to hunger or exhaustion, the parent can act quickly and efficiently to soothe the child and provide relief.
• Tip 2: Please make every effort to be physically and emotionally available to their child to anticipate and meet their needs as best as possible. Parents should also focus on creating an atmosphere that encourages their children to communicate openly and express their feelings in a safe environment. So, parents should try to understand their child's needs. This means looking for signs of emotional distress and understanding what causes outbursts.
• Tip 3: Remember not to punish, silence the child, or feel like a failure because the child had tantrums. Instead, parents could use it to help the child work through their feelings and healthily express themselves.