As I read about babies and how they grow, the one inevitable thing I always come along is the terrible twos. I knew I had to prepare myself, but I had sometime before I had to deal with that. So when my then 1 year 2 month old son started throwing tantrums, I was taken aback. I wondered if he was a genius, because they don’t start until they are 2 years right? Well we are now 1 year 5 months and still dealing with tantrums. When he started, I was tempted to go at it as my mother would, the ‘chapa’, spanking.
I had started chapa before he was 1 year because he started walking early and could understand simple instructions like No, that is not right, stop etc. and also the walking meant he could access corners around the house. So when he started playing with the oven door, or the sockets, I could easily tell him No and if he continued then a chapa would follow. How simple life was back then, he would cry and mama would hug him and in less than a minute, his eyes were dry and life was back to normal, so normal, that at times he would go right back to the place that warranted the chapa in the first place, by then, a No was sufficient.
Welcome the tantrums, where I tell him No and he throws himself down instead and starts to scream. I prevent him from hurting himself and instead of being met with a hug; it is kicks and screams, really! As I was reading on what to do, I read that some kids even hold their breath till they pass out, now that can be scary. So what do you do if they throw a tantrum like that? There is no standard way of reacting to tantrums because babies are different but here are some proven reactions that yield results.
NB. I have found that chapa doesn’t work with tantrums, why? If he tantrums over water in a bottle that doesn’t belong to him, if I chapa, he might not understand the reason for the chapa because there is so much going on. Am I chapa-ing for him wanting water, or wanting the bottle or tantrum-ing.
Tantrums are a way of the baby trying to express himself but because they cannot use words, they get frustrated and so chapa gets them more exasperated and can communicate the wrong message to the baby. Besides, we all have tantrums just that we as adults we have learnt to control ourselves.
A tantrum is a normal response when something blocks a young child from gaining independence or learning a skill. The child may not yet have the skills to express anger and frustration in other ways. For example, a temper tantrum may happen when a child becomes frustrated while trying to button a shirt or is told it’s time for bed when he or she wants to stay up.
Ignoring the tantrums and helping a young child learn how to deal with anger and frustration are often good ways to deal with tantrums. Pay attention to what starts the tantrums. Knowing what triggers the tantrums can help you act before your child’s emotions get past the point where he or she can control them.
1. Don’t lose your cool.
In general, staying with your child during a tantrum is a good idea. Stomping out of the room –alluring as that may be – can make him feel abandoned. The storm of emotion he’s going through can be frightening to him, and he’ll appreciate knowing you’re nearby.
If you find yourself getting overly frustrated, some experts suggest calmly leaving the room for a few minutes and returning after your child has stopped crying. By staying calm, you’ll help him calm down, too.
Some experts recommend picking up your child and holding him if it’s feasible (if he’s not flailing too much, for instance), saying he’ll find your embrace comforting. But others say that tactic rewards negative behaviour and that it’s better to ignore the tantrum until your child calms down.
2. Remember that you’re the adult. No matter how long the tantrum continues, don’t give in to unreasonable demands or try to negotiate with your screaming toddler. It’s especially tempting to cave in as a way of ending a public episode. Try not to worry about what others think – anyone who’s a parent has been there before.
By conceding, you’ll only be teaching your child that throwing a fit is a good way to get what she wants, which sets the stage for future conflicts. Besides, your child is already frightened by being out of control. The last thing she needs is to feel that you’re not in control either.
5. Let your child know you love him. Once your child is calm and you’ve had a chance to talk to him about his tantrum, give him a quick hug and tell him that you love him. It’s important to reward good behaviour, including your child being able to settle down and talk things over with you.
6. Try to head off tantrum-inducing situations. I have noticed that my son throws tantrums, especially in the evening just before bedtime; I guess he is tired and winding down but also want to play so he is really on the edge at that time. Pay attention to which situations push your child’s buttons and plan accordingly. If she falls apart when she’s hungry, carry snacks with you. If she gets cranky in the late afternoon, take care of errands earlier in the day.
7. Watch for signs of overstress. Although daily tantrums are a perfectly normal part of the mid-toddler years, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for possible problems. Has there been upheaval in the family? An extremely busy or harried period? Parental tensions? All of these can provoke tantrums.
Most children will grow out of having temper tantrums. With time, most children learn healthy ways to handle the strong emotions that can lead to temper tantrums.
Children who still have tantrums after the age of 4 may need help learning to deal with their emotions. If tantrums continue or start during the school years, they may be a sign of other issues, such as learning problems or trouble getting along with other children.