Have you grown increasingly frustrated by your kid’s temper tantrum tendencies lately? While all young children go through times when they have emotional and angry meltdowns, if this becomes an ongoing theme, parental struggles can mount, and it can be challenging to know what to do.
Maybe you can relate to one of the following:
- Baby tantrums
- Tantrums in 3-year-olds
- Child temper tantrum
On the one hand, you want what’s best for your child. On the other, you may feel exasperated, angry, guilty, and embarrassed if you have a kid throwing a fit. You may also worry that you’re a ‘bad parent’ and that these meltdowns happen because of your inadequacies.
What can be done for kids throwing tantrums when you’re at your wit’s end? Here are some thoughts on that.
Remember that Child Tantrums are Normal
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled Tantrums, Meltdowns and Everything in Between, Aditi Subramaniam Ph.D. shares the following:
“At the end of the day, tantrums are a natural part of toddlerhood, and we must try and view them from the perspective of a tiny person who’s just discovering her personality and doesn’t yet have the language skills to assert it.”
Tantrums are normal for young children and especially for toddlers. So, as your child throws a fit in the grocery store because of the toy or treat they can’t have, resist the urge to feel guilty or judged (as difficult as that may be).
Anyone judging or publicly shaming you did the same thing when they were your child’s age. They just don’t remember doing so and, therefore, feel better about themselves for looking down on you. And if a parent with now grown-up children looks down on you, once again, it’s because they forgot the tantrums their children threw decades earlier.
Don’t Try to Reason During a Tantrum
Although children are little, they bear one significant resemblance to adults. Both are the most difficult to reason with when they are emotionally distressed, especially when they are angry.
Studies have shown that tantrums include a combination of anger and sadness. Anger and outrage because the child can’t have what they want. Sadness, because they become painfully aware that don’t have complete control over what they perceive to be in their best interest.
The best thing to do in the heat of the moment is to let the tantrum run its course. Getting angry or trying to reason with your child will only make matters worse.
Most tantrums end in sadness. Once the anger has left, take this time to reason with and comfort your child. Because trying to reason with your child during an epic meltdown is sure to fail.
Thankfully, there are some things you can do in the meantime that may lessen the severity of tantrums or help you to avoid some of them in the future. Let’s take a look.
Try Some of These Troubleshooting Ideas
Decreasing the severity and frequency of tantrums comes down to a lot of trial and error to see what works best for you and your child. As you embark on this journey as a parent, here are some reasonably simple techniques you can try.
Distraction: It’s always good to have a few tricks in your bag for those moments when a meltdown appears eminent. This could include snacks, coloring pages, a favorite toy or even a YouTube video on your I-phone. Pay attention to what works and remember this for future times.
The Illusion of Control: Children love to feel in control. Some of this is due to their natural desire to be more independent. This technique works best when you have to stop an activity your child considers fun. You can give your child several desirable options that suit your schedule requirements and let them choose. By feeling included in the decision-making process, your child will be more likely to calmly or even happily oblige.
Paying Attention to Needs: You can often avoid a child meltdown by paying a little extra attention to their needs. Especially with toddlers and younger children, it’s more difficult for them to communicate what they need. Are they hungry, thirsty, tired or not feeling well? These are all reasons to give some extra care ahead of time.
Preparing Your Child: Is it almost time to stop doing something your child finds enjoyable? Maybe that includes a trip to the playground or visiting a friend, for instance. During these times, telling your child that you’ll need to leave the playground in ten minutes will likely mean nothing to them. Instead, try something like, “Once you go down the slide one more time and eat your snack, it will be time to go home.”
Is Your Kid’s Temper Tantrum Getting the Best of You?
If so, counseling can also help. You can discover evidence-based ways to handle tantrums and meltdowns better (or avoid some of them altogether). The Orange County Relationship Center is here for you whether you need a child therapist or adolescent counseling. Besides the option of a child counselor, we also offer individual therapy, marriage counseling and relationship counseling.
We provide counseling in the following cities and regions but may also be able to assist you through virtual counseling (teletherapy) if you live outside of that range. Feel free to schedule an appointment with us. We look forward to meeting you!