From whining to a full-blown kicking and screaming fit, tantrums come in many varieties. Keep in mind that tantrums are normal behavior young children use in order to get attention or what they want. They are most commonly seen between the ages of 1 and 4. Tantrums are a way for your child to express frustration or anger as he is learning how to deal with and appropriately communicate his emotions.
Only your child can learn to control and contain the inner struggle going on inside him/her. Know that you as a parent are not your child’s target! Your child is wanting to be independent but is still dependent on you for guidance, safety, and limits.
When your child begins to throw a tantrum:
- Be sure your child is safe, then distance yourself from the tantrum or ignore the behavior. Yelling or trying to reason at this point will probably make the tantrum worse.
- Pick up your child and hold her quietly or put her somewhere safe to “throw” her tantrum; then keeping her in your range of vision, walk away out of her sight until the tantrum calms down or is complete.
- Do not give in to the tantrum. This will only teach your child that this behavior gets him what he wants.
- When the tantrum is over, say something like, “It’s terrible being upset, isn’t it? I love you and will help you as you learn to control yourself.”
- Be patient. Stay calm. Tantrums do not mean your child does not love you.
When your child is put in a situation where he surprises you by not having a tantrum, be sure to praise your child! Rewarding appropriate behavior makes a big impression on children during these years because despite what we might think, they do want to please adults.