Toddler Temper Tantrums
Toddler temper tantrums can be frustrating and overwhelming for both parents and children. Tantrums usually happen when a child is overwhelmed, frustrated, or doesn’t get his way. Most tantrums last for only a few minutes, but they can feel much longer to the parent who is trying to deal with them. Often toddlers will have an epic meltdown while in a public place–grocery stores, Target, church, etc. Embarrassing and humiliating when your toddler ignores your pleas to stop.
Tantrums are a common problem for toddlers. They appear between 12 months and three years and can last from a few minutes to a couple of hours. It can be very upsetting to see your toddler lose control and shout or cry.
There are some things you can do to help prevent or reduce temper tantrums. The most important thing is to try to stay calm and positive yourself (not at all easy, we know!). If you act angry or upset, your child will likely become more agitated. It is okay to feel upset and angry, but best not to act that way.
In this article, we will discuss the most common causes of toddler temper tantrums, as well as some tips on how to handle them.
Causes of Toddler Temper Tantrums
Temper tantrums arise when the child is in pain, is tired, hungry or frustrated. When a child is upset, he or she may lash out and act out. They may run away from you, try to kick or bite, throw things, or scream and cry.
Your toddler may not be able to express his or her feelings in a socially acceptable way, so he or she may express his or her anger in a different way.
1) Lack of sleep. Many toddlers do best with a regular sleep schedule. This can be hard to arrange if your toddler is a night owl or you have a toddler with an up early schedule. If you need help getting your toddler to sleep, you can talk with your child’s pediatrician and/or a psychotherapist who has experience working with children.
2) Frustration. When a child gets upset or angry, his or her body can act out with either a tantrum or a meltdown. Toddlers can cry for hours, scream and throw items, or hit. A toddler’s tantrum is usually just a cry for attention. They are frustrated when they cannot express their feelings in words, so it comes out in their behavior.
3) Impatience. Toddlers can be impatient and want things their own way. A toddler’s “no” can be a way of saying, “no, I want it my way.” Never get into a power struggle with a toddler–you will lose!
4) Overstimulation. If a child is constantly exposed to too much stimulation or noise, he or she can get confused and not know how to react. Overstimulation can be caused by too many toys, too much noise, or too many people.
8) Too much or too little structure. A toddler can get overwhelmed by too much structure. Too much structure is when a child is not allowed to do enough things that he or she enjoys. If your toddler has too little structure, he or she may get bored or have a difficult time controlling his or her behavior.
What can parents do about temper tantrums?
It is important that you the parent understand that temper tantrums are part of development and not take them personally. DO NOT try to control your child by hitting him or her. Hitting your child teaches them not to engage in the objectionable behavior in front of you, but they might do it somewhere else. Hitting them also role models aggression.
How to prevent temper tantrums
When possible, give your child choices so he or she can decide what to do. Limit choices to 2 or 3 so as not to overwhelm them. Don’t make your child wait for things unless you have to. Give your child time to calm down.- Do not yell at your child when he or she has a temper tantrum.- Don’t punish your child by not letting him or her eat or play. Give your child a chance to recover.
How to respond during a temper tantrum
If your toddler has just begun to have temper tantrums, calmly approach the child and say, ‘I guess you’re frustrated.’ If your child does not want to listen to you, try saying ‘I know you’re angry, but I can’t help it if you don’t listen to me’. Keep it simple.
If you are unable to calm your child, then you can try to redirect them or move them to a place that is quiet. Encourage them to use their words, but it is very likely they cannot yet.
Toddler tantrum tips
Tantrums are not usually caused by bad behavior, but by tiredness, frustration or anger. A toddler may have a tantrum when they are tired, hungry, hot, or have just been told to do something they do not want to do.,Tantrums are very common at this age. They might also hit, scratch, bite, kick or throw things. Show them you love them, but not their behavior. If you can manage their schedule so that they are able to eat or snack when they are hungry, get good sleep, and allow them, when appropriate, to make choices and feel they have some control.
If you need help…
We are here to help. Give us a call or send an email (see the form and phone number below) to learn how we may help you and your toddler. Supportive counseling and even art therapy can help your child express their emotions in a creative and even fun way. We can help your child learn self-soothing techniques and increase their emotional tolerance (which in some toddlers is very low).
To Schedule an Appointment
To schedule your first appointment, click on the Book Now button. There you will see our availability for the next two months. There you can select the day and time that works best for you.
We look forward to meeting with you and your toddler and will do our very best to be of assistance.
To read more about our therapists (Lauren Fallat is both a counselor and art therapist): About Us
See an article Dr. Marion wrote on Read to Your Children