Tame Your Toddler’s Tantrums

If you have wondered what exactly has brought about the next bout of your child’s screams, sobs, kicks and a roll on the floor, you might even have wondered if there was a method to this mayhem and a reason for this shriek-fest.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota, as also the University of Connecticut along with researchers elsewhere, have found out that, apparently, there is! But before they share pointers with parents to tame your toddler’s tantrums, they also give you a clue as to what the different sounds and seemingly erratic behaviours mean:

  • Throwing things and pulling and pushing things tend to go together; so do crying, whining, falling to the floor, and seeking comfort.
  • Screaming and yelling signals a higher intensity of anger, while crying, fussing, and whining denotes sadness. However, at times, they are intertwined.
  • If you find your child whining, it might indicate sadness, boredom, or exhaustion.
  • Screams are generally brought on by frustration. For some, they might precede more aggressive ways of getting what they want. Some could follow the screams by biting. However, screaming is also an effort to attract the attention of an adult or another child in the vicinity.

Experts say that there are ways to get your tot through his next tantrum:

  • The goal for parents is to have the child push through the anger stage as quickly as possible. Don’t talk to your child if he or she is angry. In fact, any communication might just set them off and incite new heights of rage. Ignoring the child for a while is the best strategy.
  • If the toddler is screaming, look for it as a hint that they’re starting to get worked up and frustrated. It’s an early indication to intervene.
  • Encourage them to use words. Ask them to talk. Telling them that you don’t understand the yelling and sobbing and can help only if you hear what they want is another idea to make a child understand that talking gets results.
  • Guide them through the process. If they wish for something, make them understand that they can take your finger, pull you over to what they want, and point out to it.
  • Whining usually means your child is not in any danger, just complaining. If they whine, tell them that you don’t understand what they want or then ignore them. They will come to you and start using words.
  • Children cry not only because they are seeking attention, they could be experiencing legitimate fears or worries. Make sure you don’t ignore excessive crying. Figure out the underlying cause. If you suspect that your child is genuinely feeling sad or scared, try to talk it out. A soothing talk, irrespective of whether the child gets the meaning of it, can calm their nerves.
  • Watch your own volume. Are you in a habit of screaming? Children model their behaviour on that of the adults in the house. Try not to argue or fight in front of the child, they absorb your mood more than you think. Besides, if you get your way by shouting, they perceive it as powerful and effective behaviour to get what they want.
  • If you little one’s outbursts seem to result in biting or hitting, make it absolutely clear that you do not approve of this behaviour. Be firm, but don’t display violence of your own even lightly. The child has to understand that violence will not yield anything.
  • If your child throws a tantrum in a public place, try and distract them and help them move on. However, if you are in a place like a theatre or a restaurant, where people would not appreciate the ruckus, you may have to take control of the situation by physically removing the child with you from the place.

Researchers say that once the anger has burned itself out, what is left over is sadness, which will see the child reaching out to you for comfort. Once that passes – calm is restored, at least for a while!

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