Child Temper Tantrums
It can range from a crying jag to a screaming fit but a child’s temper tantrum is never nice – not for the child and not for the witnesses. Unfortunately, temper tantrums are a normal part of growing up and almost every child will have a few before they learn that such episodes are not exactly socially acceptable. While parents can learn to understand and hopefully head off future temper tantrums, there is probably no way to avoid them altogether. Instead, parents should spend their energy remaining calm during these flashes of anger than worrying about eradicating them.
Temper Tantrums Through the AgesThere can be many reasons that children have temper tantrums, though some stereotypes can be made based on the age of the child. For example:
- Infants – infants do not generally have temper tantrums. Instead, they usually cry out when they have a need such as hunger or a dirty nappy. When an infant’s need has been met, his/her mood will usually revert to that of the adults around him/her.
- Toddlers – toddlers are especially prone to temper tantrums, hence the “terrible twos” and “terrible threes”. Usually these tantrums result from frustration which can be magnified when the toddler is especially hungry or tired.
- Young children – young to school aged children will usually have fewer temper tantrums than toddlers because by this age the child will likely have learned more coping skills. However, young children often realise that temper tantrums, especially when held in public, will get them what they want and may employ this technique as needed.
- Children – older and school aged children do not generally have temper tantrums, but they may if they become overwhelmed or especially tired. Children with fewer coping skills and less patience will be more likely to have temper tantrums.
Avoiding Temper TantrumsIt will probably not be possible to avoid all temper tantrums, but there are some things that parents can do to lessen the number that they must suffer through. Many parents find it helpful to:
- Eat meals and snacks at similar times each day so that children do not get too hungry.
- Set naptimes and bedtimes each day so that children do not get overtired.
- Give their child limited options so that they always have a choice.
- Avoid activities or settings that may become frustrating for a child.
- Warn their children when they are about to end an enjoyable activity or leave an enjoyable setting.
Coping with a Temper TantrumEach parent will develop his/her own way of coping with temper tantrums, but in general there are three main approaches. General methods of coping with temper tantrums include:
- Distracting the child. This technique works especially well with toddlers who tend to focus on one item or object at a time and can be easily led on to something else.
- Removing the child. Sometimes children become so overwhelmed that they need be taken to a new setting before they will calm down. If this is the case, even a different room in the house or simply walking outside of a restaurant may help.
- Ignoring the child. Some children, particularly those over the toddler years, will have temper tantrums in order to get attention. Simply ignoring the child may help to defuse this type of temper tantrum.