Tantrums are normal in young children. One of the biggest challenges for parents is knowing how to deal with a child’s yelling, hitting, and falling to the ground without getting upset. Researchers from Yale University and other leading universities reveal some helpful strategies for parents to know what to do when their child has a tantrum.
What is a tantrum?
Tantrums are common in children between the ages of 2 and 4. The older your child is, the fewer tantrums he will have. Studies found that young children often have a tantrum at least once a day. They can last up to fifteen minutes. It is an exhausting experience for you as a parent to watch your child go through this out of control episode. But, as a parent, you can help your child control tantrums.
What Causes Tantrums?
Almost anything can trigger a young child’s tantrum, but the most common triggers are tiredness, illness, or hunger. Frustration also triggers tantrums due to the child’s combined desire for parental attention and the desire to be independent. Children also use their tantrums to manipulate their parents because it is an effective way to get what they want quickly. Tantrums also happen because of your child’s frustration when you don’t allow him to do dangerous things like touch the stove. Over time, your child will learn to express his feelings by naming emotions like happy, sad, and angry instead of having a tantrum. Until then, it is up to you as a parent to learn strategies to handle your child’s tantrums.
Yale reveals an effective new program for parents to help end tantrums for good.
Yale Reachers They are working on an online tool to help parents with their children’s tantrums. The program will be an 8 module video series with easy to understand strategies for dealing with children’s tantrums. You can do it at your own pace and there is hope to incorporate some telehealth visits during the series. This 50-year-old program is not up and running yet, but its goal is to have it ready for parents as soon as possible.
What do you do during a tantrum?
Sometimes tantrums can’t be avoided. The first thing to remember when your child has a tantrum is that it is normal for young children. When your child has a tantrum, try to stay calm, it is actually a way of teaching him self-control. Is not easy. Take a breath and remember what it was like when you were little. When you remember how you used to be, it can help you relate tor your child.
Remember the acronym RIDD.
Studies show that using the acronym RIDD can help you manage your child’s tantrums.
- Keep calm: Silently try to redirect or distract your child. If you are hurting another child or yourself, say “Don’t bite” in a firm but calm voice.
- Ignore the tantrum. Sometimes this stops the child because he is not getting your attention.
- Distract: You can pick up your child and take him to another room. One person discovered that singing a song and dancing stopped their child during the tantrum. This may work in the short term, but will likely lose its effect over time.
- Say yes: This means that if your child has a physical need, you help him like food, water, or a nap. If it is simply a demand, then it is best not to give in, as this will reinforce that tantrums give them what they want.
The timeout may be effective for a while, but it will lose effect if you use it a lot. Time-outs should be short. A general rule of thumb is 1 minute for your child’s age, so a two-year-old should have a two-minute break time.
Affirmation and role play
Another helpful strategy is to notice when your child is doing something right. Make sure to be specific in how you encourage them. Say something like
“I like the way you didn’t get mad when I said no more cookies. You’re showing me self-control. “
Instead of assuming that your child will learn to control himself, try role-playing to teach him. Children love to pretend, so practice role-playing when your child is doing well, never while having a tantrum. Make it a fun time for them where you pretend to be the kid and he’s the adult. Represent what it looks like to do it the wrong way and what it looks like. Throughout the day, you can remind him by saying something like,
Do you remember how we act on what to do when you are angry? You can say, ‘Mommy, I’m crazy for not getting a cookie.’ instead of falling to the ground. Right?”
Your child may not understand it at first, but after practicing the “right way” through role play, your child will begin to practice what you acted out over time. It is a process of their formation and their learning.
Prevent a tantrum
Prevention is another way to handle tantrums. There are ways to compensate for your child’s angry outbursts.
- Calendar: Children do well with routine. If possible, create a schedule for your day for meals, naps, and playtime. This creates a sense of security for your child because he knows what will come next. You can tell them, “Okay, five more minutes of play time. Then we’ll have lunch. “This helps them adjust to the changes to come.
- Manage your stress: Try to avoid creating a lot of stress for your child if he is prone to tantrums. Be consistent in how you relate to them. If you are unpredictable, this creates stress and frustration for your child.
- Be a good role model: Yelling at your child will not help him learn not to yell when he is angry. Communicate with them, teach them to use words like angry, frustrated, sad or angry. Ask them questions that help them understand how they are feeling at the moment. Say something like
“Are you crying because you are hungry? Please stop crying and sit down. Mommy has your lunch right here. See?”
“Does not being able to leave make you angry? We cannot always do what we want. It’s hard I know. Let’s play puzzles. “
At first, they won’t be able to communicate what’s going on inside their hearts and minds, but you can still use this language so that over time, they will begin to communicate their feelings.
Give your child positive attention:
Give your child positive attention by playing with them, reading books, including them in your daily cooking or cleaning chores. Try to childproof your home so that you are not constantly correcting your child about touching things. Make sure you are aware of what they are watching on TV or on your tablet. Aggressive games and programs can cause aggression in children.
Sometimes tantrums go beyond what is normal for a young child. If your child is constantly aggressive or intentionally hurting himself or others or unable to calm down after 25 minutes, this could be an indication that there is a deeper problem. It can be helpful to talk to your pediatrician about your child’s behavior.
Sometimes atypical tantrums indicate that a child has a specific condition such as the following:
- Oppositional defiant disorder
- Post traumatic stress (PTSD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Learning disability
- Eye sight problems
- Listening to problems
If your child has one of these disorders, getting an early diagnosis helps him and you. Your pediatrician can evaluate your child or recommend a specialist to diagnose it.
And the bites?
Researchers reveal that children, especially with less developed language skills, commonly bite during frustration.
If your child bites, try to protect yourself and other children from being bitten. If your child bites someone, clean it with soap and water. If your child bites you or another child and breaks the skin, clean the wound with soap and water and then apply an antibiotic cream. Watch for infections and continue applying the topical antibiotic cream to the wound.
Do not worry. Tantrums do not harm your child’s brain. Even if they hold their breath, it won’t hurt. Of course, tantrums can be detrimental to your life, especially if you are in public. It sure is embarrassing, but anyone who has ever had a child understands what you are going through. The main thing to do when your child has a tantrum is to stay calm. Try to distract your child with another activity or a fun dance.
Sometimes the best practice is to ignore the outburst but never allow your child to hurt himself or another person. Children thrive on a routine, so try to maintain a routine at home, scheduling their meals, playtime, and naps. If your child has unusually prolonged or aggressive tantrums, talk to your pediatrician for advice. They can evaluate your child based on his past experiences or any health problems that may be happening.
You can teach your child to communicate his feelings and create fun role-play moments by doing the right thing when he is upset. And don’t forget to give your child positive attention throughout the day by playing with him, reading to him, or including him in your daily routine.
Above all, remember to hold on. Your child will stop having tantrums when he grows up.