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Toddler With a Tantrum? Here Are 5 Do’s and Don’ts

Toddler With a Tantrum? Here Are 5 Do’s and Don’ts

Toddler tantrums are one of the most frustrating parts of parenting. They can seem to strike at any time for any reason. They can make you seriously question your parenting skills. The good news is that, with the right approach, you can cut down on the frequency of tantrums, cut their duration, and help your child learn better coping techniques. Before the next one strikes, read up on these important dos and don’ts.

1. Do learn what is likely to trigger a tantrum.

There are times when kids are more vulnerable to tantrums than others. A child who is hungry, tired, or not feeling well is more likely to have a tantrum. New situations, and fear or uncertainty can also make a child more tantrum-prone. By anticipating the possibility of a tantrum, you may be able to curtail it before it starts. For instance, pick up a snack when you know your child is bound to be hungry soon. Rearranging plans to allow for a short nap can also make tantrums more rare.

2. Do stay calm and compassionate.

Losing your patience with a child who is having a tantrum can only serve to extend it. Instead, stay calm and empathetic. Kids look to us for cues on how to navigate difficult situations. If your response involves displaying frustration, it can wind up reinforcing the behavior that you are trying to curb. A compassionate response, by contrast, allows you to model the behavior that you would like your child to emulate.

3. Don’t try to stop a tantrum already in motion.

Once a tantrum has started, the best option is to let it run its course. Trying to address the possible causes of the tantrum may lead to greater frustration on your child’s part, which can extend the tantrum. Instead, wait until the tantrum is over to discuss the issue with your child. When your child has calmed again, you’ll be able to have a more productive discussion about the reasons for the tantrum and better ways to express emotions in the future.

4. Don’t try to bribe your way out of a toddler tantrum.

It can be tempting to give in and give a child what they want so you can make a tantrum stop. However, this can have the effect of reinforcing the behavior. If the child learns that shouting, crying and other tantrum-related behavior are the key to getting their way, they will go for this option far more quickly next time. Instead, after the tantrum is over, explain calmly why you cannot give them what they asked for. A “no” should remain a firm limit.

5. Don’t punish children for tantrums.

When children are punished for expressing their emotions, they aren’t learning the right lessons. Instead, you want them to absorb the idea that there are alternative ways to deal with how they feel. By discussing the behavior you want to see instead of punishing for the behavior you don’t, you can redirect your child more effectively.

Tantrums can be extremely frustrating for both you and your child. The good news is that kids become better able to control their emotions as they grow. While tantrums can be pretty intense around age two, by age four, your child will probably have learned how to curb them more often and more effectively.