Call it whatever you like, The Terrible Twos, The Threenager or The Flippin’ Fours, at some point your child is going to enter a tantrum phase.
Tantrums are no fun, but it’s important to remember they are (almost always) a phase and a typical part of childhood development. Your child is learning how to express opinions and determine the best way to achieve a desired result. This is the time to help your little one grow positive social-emotional skills.
Recognize Tantrum Triggers
Keep a journal and write down what precedes most tantrums. This will help you understand what could be “triggering” the behavior. If your child has a care provider, this person should keep notes too. Do most tantrums happen at a certain time of day? Around naptime? Mealtime? At the store? While taking a toy away? After daycare? While you’re on the phone?
Common tantrum triggers include:
- Transitioning (changing too quickly)
- Sensory overload (overwhelmed by environment or activity)
Stay a Step Ahead
Once you recognize the trigger(s), you have a better chance of stopping a tantrum before it starts. For example, if fatigue is a trigger, try rearranging nap schedules or consider an earlier bedtime. If it’s hunger, add a small snack, likeNosh Peanut Butter Puffs, in between mealtimes.
Other ways to get ahead of tantrums
Predictability. Routines are proven to minimize tantrum behaviors. Create a basic schedule for morning, afternoon, and bedtime. If you’re going to change something, talk about it with your child at least 15-30 minutes before you act. Switching activities too quickly can leave children feeling confused and playing emotional catch-up.
Praise good behaviors. This is critical to reinforcing more positive emotional responses. Let your child know when he or she is behaving well. “Thank you for waiting for me to finish talking.” “Great job finishing yourbanana & mango wafer!”
Offer choices. Avoid saying "no" to everything. Replace “no” with “maybe later” or “not right now” and give your tot a sense of control by offering simple choices. "Would you like to wear red or blue today?"
First, then. If I do this, then I get this. Even very young children understand reciprocity. If you have a tantrum trigger on your to-do list, like a shopping trip, think about how to communicate reciprocity. “First, we go to the store, then we go to the playground.”
Emotional vocabulary building.Tantrums can come from verbal limitations. Children are still developing language skills; sometimes it’s frustrating trying to find the right words to describe how they feel.
Help your child name emotions throughout the day. “I see your arms are crossed. Are you feeling mad?” Or, “It’s almost time for lunch. I bet you’re feeling hungry.” “Rubbing your eyes? Seems like you’re feeling tired.”
When a Tantrum Hits
Ok, let’s face it. You can do everything right to prevent a tantrum and still find yourself stuck in the checkout line with a screaming toddler. So what do you do when all preventative measures fail?
Try a Distraction.Sometimes, redirecting focus is all it takes to tame a tantrum. Carry a few healthy organic snack options in your bag. Food can quickly, and positively, shift attention. OurNosh Peanut Butter Puffs are a great organic snack option!
Stay calm. Easier said than done, but it’s important. If you need to step away for a few moments and collect yourself, do it. Just be sure your child is in a safe place where he or she can’t get hurt.
Stay consistent. Your child should grow to know what to expect from you during a tantrum. If I act like this, I get this result. Research still supports time-outs as a safe and effective way to manage typical tantrums, but keep them short. The goal should be for your child to get control of his or herself. When the tantrum ends, meet your child at eye level and talk about the positive behavior you expect from him or her.
Follow Through. If not picking up toys led to a tantrum and time-out, you need to follow through with the request after the tantrum has ended. Otherwise, you risk sending the message to your child that a tantrum is an effective way to get what he or she wants.
The Mayo Clinic: Health and Lifestyle
John Hopkins Medicine: Healthy
Other Nosh Related Blogs:
- Is Your Baby Teething? Knowing the Signs & Tips
-Tips to Know When Your Baby is Hungry