What to do about tantrums
Here are some tips to diffuse a tantrum.
From experience, I advise that ignoring a tantrum is the most
productive long term. I know this sounds harsh and difficult, but engaging in
tantrums shows the toddler/child them that they will get attention and a
response through negative behaviour. This is called negative reinforcement.
Tantrums will be far more frequent if your child knows that their tantrum will
cause you to give them more attention, change your mind or eventually give into
their needs. My best advice is to ensure your child is safe and then continue
as if the tantrum is not happening.
You may choose to put the situation creatively into words first
and then sit it out. For example, you are feeling very cross. So, I’m going to
wait until you calm down until we talk about it. Sometimes it may be
appropriate to use humour to lighten the situation or dilute the intensity of
the anger or deflect the anger into something else. For example, those little
legs are kicking so hard they must be very strong, but they are still so very
cute and I love them very much! Some children can handle this, others may find
it more offensive – you know your child best.
Teach your child in between tantrums how they can help the
tantrum to ‘go away’ by counting to ten slowly and to breathe deeply. You can
do this too out loud when you are feeling stressed so that you are mentoring
behaviour that can be reproduced in a healthy way.
A tantrum or an outburst is
another way of using the word ‘create.’ We create a fuss when feeling very
angry, which then disrupts the flow of things. Toddlers and children do not
have the emotional vocabulary to express their anger. Tantrums are caused by a
child's inability to express and manage their very big and sometimes explosive,
emotions and frustrations.
Expressing oneself is a fundamental human need. That is what
your toddler is doing – expressing themselves with increased intensity! This
indicates how very important it is to allow your child to find ways of
self-expression through using their imagination. It’s a advantageous to
help your child develop emotional maturity in order to enjoy a creative and
imaginative childhood. If they don’t get what they want when they want, you are
enabling your child to develop inner resourcefulness. Sometimes we have to find
other ways to resolve needs and wants and by reinforcing this you encourage
your child to use their imagination and problem-solving skills to think up new
Encourage an art break! Use art to help your child calm down or
when generally to process their feelings. Using simple art materials and ask
your child to make pictures. Here are some ideas to get you started, feel free
to improvise: Ask your child if they would like to draw a picture of their
favourite thing that happened during the day. Or to make pictures of what they
liked the least or a picture of what they are feeling, and what that looks
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