Parenting is quite a challenge. Parents are expected to know what to do in any given case, even though we have never been actually taught it. Often we are good at figuring out the best solution. But sometimes, you just can’t think straight, especially when your kid is having a tantrum and you are about to have one as well.
Here, one needs to understand just what is going on inside the child’s head that leads to these temper tantrums. Such unfortunate situations are most observed among children under 4 years old.
So, at the age of 1-2, the child has not yet mastered language skills well enough to communicate their needs, such as milk or a change of diapers. Neither has the child developed any sustainable coping mechanisms, so they get frustrated instantly. So, at this point, children have fits to communicate their needs and frustration.
Later on, as the child becomes more autonomous and aware of his needs, and he sees a tantrum as a means of getting what he wants. Mind that a baby has no clear notions of good and bad at this age, and the only thing that matters to him is the effectiveness of a fit in getting what he wants.
We have asked experienced parents for advice on dealing with tantrums, and here are several ideas they’ve come up with:
1. Find The Root Cause
As mentioned before, the child uses a meltdown to communicate his need for something basic – food, a nap, a toy snatched away by another kid, etc. The vocabulary of a child under 2.5 years old seldom exceeds 50 words, and he can hardly put them together in phrases over 3 words long. Inability to communicate the need with such modest means can cause a meltdown.
That is, the two of you need to find an alternative way of communication. For example, teach your child to point a finger in the direction of what he wants, and learn to understand what he means by that (because clearly such pointing can at times be understood in different ways).
Another option is to learn a few basic words in sign language – such as ‘food,’ ‘nap,’ ‘toy,’ etc. – and use them for communication.
2. Show Your Care And Support
The reason for a tantrum is to attract attention. At such a young age, the child does not see the difference between the positive and negative kinds of attention very clearly. Therefore, it is only wise to avoid escalating the situation by getting nervous yourself. Instead, talk to the child in a calm and soothing tone. We know how easily children take after the adults and older kids from their environment. By talking softly, you encourage the child to adopt that voice. Also, talking calmly is good for yourself, since it helps you to stay relaxed.
Another good idea is to give your child a hug. This should make him feel secure. However, this will only work if the hug is firm and sincere, and not a superficial cuddly-cutesy one.
3. Let Them Have A Good Cry
A child has not yet learned to be a master of his emotions. In fact, not so many adults can do that. So, at dome point of a meltdown, emotions simply take over, and there is just no room for reason anymore. In such moments there is literally nothing you can do to fix the situation, except giving the kid enough space to release the frustration and time to regain self-control.
4. Distract The Kid
Children don’t have a very long span of attention. In fact, it is quite short. So, distracting a child away from his object of obsession is quite easy. You can just take him to another place, and let his attention be attracted by something different. It is also a good idea to have a purse full of various distractions at hand – toys, snacks, books, etc. With time you can even take this art to a new level and see the meltdown coming, so you can prevent it before it’s there.
Having these tips in mind will undoubtedly save a lot of nerves for your children and yourself, as well as make you parenting less stressful and more enjoyable.
Alice Jones is a tutor and freelance writer, who is interested in education, blogging and sharing her ideas. She also loves inspiring and motivating people and has spent the last 5 years improving and helping the others to improve. Follow Alice on Twitter, Google+, or find her in other social media, pop in there and say “Hi” to her!
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