We’ve all heard about the terrible twos.
But what about the trying threes, beastly bedtimes and shocking supermarket meltdowns? Toddler tantrums aren’t the easiest thing to deal with but they’re perfectly normal.
What is a tantrum?
Want to leave a shop and your toddler throws themselves on the floor and refuses to move? Welcome to Tantrum town. They can come in lots of different forms, from shouting to hitting, crying or shouting. They’re a very normal part of child development and generally start around 18 months (although it can be earlier or later). It’s your child’s way of expressing how they feel, often when they don’t have the language they need to explain what they want or what’s going on for them.
Tantrums tend to die out as they start to chat more and some kids don’t have any at all.
How do I deal with tantrums?
Take. A. Deep. Breath.
It’s incredibly hard to stay calm once your child builds up to a full on tantrum, especially if it’s in public. But it’s the best thing you can do for both you and your child. Ignore any judgy eyes (most people watching will be hugely sympathetic) and keep things calm.
If you can identify why they’re having a tantrum and catch it before it goes to full on blow out. Are they tired? Hungry? Fed up of what you’re doing?
It can be really hard to stop an activity and switch to something else but if it saves massive meltdowns then it’s worth considering a quick snack, leaving that shop or taking off their coat (even though it’s freezing!).
If you can feel a toddler tornado approaching then distraction can help, use your best cheery voice, sing to them, give them something else to play with or go to a different place entirely.
What works for you will depend on your little one but sometimes calm talking helps, ignoring the tantrum and just pretending everything is normal or physical touch like hugging or holding their hand. Some kids just need a bit of space to work through their emotions. And we know it’s tough not to crumble but try not to say yes or go for a sweetie bribe to end the tantrum.
Remember to praise good behaviour as often as you can and when it’s possible give your child choices so they feel like they’re in charge.
When should I worry about tantrums?
Yes, toddler tantrums are a normal part of development but if you or your child feel very out of control, they hurt themselves (or someone else) or you feel it’s affecting your relationship then chat to your health visitor or GP.
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