PARENT PICKLES: How to manage toddler tantrums
DOES your toddler throw tantrums that are proving difficult to stop? Do they happen without much cause? Are they becoming more regular?
A tantrum can be very confronting and stressful to parents, especially if you've been driven to your wit's end and are at a loss about what to do about them.
Good news - tantrums are a normal part of your toddler growing up and should tail off as a child reaches the age of 4. Eventually they should become a rare occurrence.
That said, knowing they'll stop one day doesn't help when you're trying to deal with the tantrum in front of you, so let's look at what you can do!
UNDERSTAND THE CAUSE
Your child is growing up and learning about their feelings. They're still figuring out how to handle bad feelings and how to communicate about them.
One of the most important factors in the frequency of your toddler having a tantrum is their actual temperament. They may naturally be more emotional and easily frustrated, which triggers a tantrum.
Stress, hunger, tiredness and over-stimulation are all contributing factors towards tantrums as well as when your child is in a difficult situation. For example they might get frustrated when they're trying to learn their letters or when a friend needs to go home.
PREVENTION IS THE FIRST STEP
Try to identify situations when your child may have a tantrum and prevent trigger situations when they're tired or hungry. Ask whether they're overdue for a nap or for a feed.
Making sure they get a nap sooner rather than later, or simply giving them a snack, can often stop a future tantrum from occurring.
If you see a tantrum brewing you can try to distract them with a new fun activity before the tantrum is triggered. Changing their focus can often prevent the tantrum from occurring.
ENCOURAGE GOOD BEHAVIOUR AND DON'T REWARD BAD BEHAVIOUR
If your toddler believes their tantrums get them attention, or that what they desire is rewarded by you giving in to their demands, they will use them to get their way.
Make sure you don't pay off their bad behaviour. If the tantrum is because you have said no to something, don't give in and then say yes to stop the tantrum.
Wait out the tantrum and take a low-key approach. Ignoring the bad behaviour will show your child it doesn't work.
Ensure you also reward good behaviour. If your child is getting frustrated, but doesn't resort to a tantrum, praise them for handling it like a "big kid”.
MORE PERSISTENT AND CHALLENGING TANTRUMS
If tantrums persist, it's a good idea to keep a diary. Maybe there's a pattern and after a period of time your diary will reveal a cause you've overlooked.
If you're struggling to cope with your child's tantrums and they're impacting on your family's life, think about seeking professional advice. Our child health team is always happy to speak to parents and can offer support.
HELP AT HAND
You can visit the team at the Margaret Rose Centre, 312 Bourbong St, Bundaberg; The Village 34 Torquay Rd, Hervey Bay or the Bauer-Wiles Building 167 Neptune St, Maryborough.
Alternatively, call your local WBHHS child health team on:
- Bundaberg - 4150 2700
- Fraser Coast - 4122 8733
- Childers - 4192 1133
- Gin Gin - 4157 2222
- Gayndah - 4161 3571
- Mundubbera - 4161 3571
- Monto - 4166 9300
- Biggenden - 4127 6400
- Eidsvold - 4165 7100
Even if you just want to have a chat and a bit of reassurance, the WBHHS child health team is here to help!