Kids' temperaments vary dramatically — so some kids may experience regular tantrums, whereas others have them rarely. They're a normal part of development and don't have to be seen as something negative.
Several basic causes of tantrums are familiar to parents everywhere: The child is seeking attention or is tired, hungry, or uncomfortable.
Tantrums are common during the second year of life, a time when children are acquiring language. Toddlers generally understand more than they can express. Imagine not being able to communicate your needs to someone — a frustrating experience that may precipitate a tantrum. As language skills improve, tantrums tend to decrease.
Another task toddlers are faced with is an increasing need for autonomy. Toddlers want a sense of independence and control over the environment — more than they may be capable of handling. This creates the perfect condition for power struggles as a child thinks "I can do it myself" or "I want it, give it to me." When kids discover that they can't do it and can't have everything they want, the stage is set for a tantrum.
The most important things to remember when your child is in the throes of a tantrum are:
a) Don't punish the child.
b) Don't reward the child.
c) Stay calm and ignore the behavior to the extent possible.
d) Keep the child safe.
e) Isolate the child if possible.
f) Don't let the disapproval of other people affect your response to the tantrum.
When your child throws a tantrum, she is essentially out of control. You must make sure that you stay firmly in control. Punishing the child for throwing a tantrum, by yelling or spanking for example, makes the tantrum worse in the short term and prolongs the behavior in the long term. Trying to stop the tantrum by giving in to the child's demands is even worse. This is the way to teach a child to use tantrums for manipulation, and will cause the behavior to continue indefinitely, even into adulthood.
During a tantrum, you can help your child by:1. TRY TO REMAIN CALM. Shaking, spanking, or screaming at a child only tends to make the tantrum worse instead of better. Set a positive example for children by remaining in control of yourself and your emotions.
2. PAUSE BEFORE YOU ACT. Take at least thirty seconds to decide how you will handle the tantrum. Four possible ways to deal with a tantrum include:
DISTRACT - Try to get the child's attention focused on something else. If he screams when you take him away from something unsafe (like your purse), offer him something else to play with. This technique works well with toddlers.
REMOVE - Take the child to a quiet, private place to calm down. This should be a quiet "cooling down" place that is away from other children. Avoid trying to talk or reason with a screaming child. It doesn't work! Stay nearby until you see that she has calmed down. Then you can talk and return to whatever you were doing.
IGNORE - Older children will sometimes throw tantrums to get attention. Try ignoring the tantrum and going about your business as usual.
HOLD - Holding an "out of control" child calmly is sometimes necessary to keep him from hurting himself or someone else. You might also say something like: "I can see you are angry right now, and I am going to hold you until you calm down. I won't let you hurt me or anyone else." Often this approach can be comforting to a child. Children don't like to be out of control. It scares them. An adult who is able to take charge of the situation and remain calm and in control can be very reassuring.
3. WAIT UNTIL THE CHILD CALMS DOWN - THEN TALK. It's difficult to reason with a screaming child. Insist on a "cooling down" period, and follow up with a discussion about behavior.
4. COMFORT AND REASSURE THE CHILD. Tantrums really scare most kids. Often, they are not sure why they feel so angry and feel rather shaken when it is all over. They need to know that you disapprove of their behavior, but that you still love them.