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Understanding Toddler Temper Tantrums

Understanding (and Managing!) this Behavior in Children


Feel like your little one has been suffering from a severe case of terrible two syndrome? It’s certainly not uncommon; upwards of 75% of toddlers can behaviorally unravel on a regular basis. While toddler temper tantrums are all part of raising kids, many parents still want to understand this particular behavior in children and, most importantly, have a plan place on how to successfully navigate them as they occur.

three toddlers in a bath together crying

Breaking Down this Particular Behavior of Children

You may initially believe that your child’s temper tantrum is a live (loud!) affront to your parenting abilities, it’s important to remember that this specific behavior of children is about so much more than that. As your baby grows into toddlerhood, he or she is quickly learning he is a separate individual who knows what he wants in any given moment...and what he doesn’t. Being instructed by someone to do something that he dislikes can instantly solicit feelings of having no control...which, in turn, can begin trigger a temper tantrum.

Spotting Signs of a Temper Tantrum Before It’s Too Late

Being able to spot the signs of a tantrum is a great, proactive way to be able to set yourself up for parenting success. Look for:

  • Hunger and/or tiredness
  • Escalating stress in any given situation
  • Situations that generate anger/distress
  • Increasing irritation/frustration

Learning Tactics to Help Cope with Temper Tantrums from Your Child

One of the best ways to successfully cope with and manage a temper tantrum with your child is to help your little one feel like they have control or authority in certain situations. Tactics like offering choices and asking for input from your toddler during appropriate situations can go a long way in diffusing unruly behavior in children. Most importantly, parents should never take their child’s temper tantrums personally. Responding to a tantrum with anger or yelling may only make things worse. Remaining calm and relaxed is the best way to quickly diffuse the situation.

Finally, never try to reason your way out of a temper tantrum situation. Logically approaching your child during a fit of anger simply won’t yield the results you’re looking for. Instead, redirect their attention in a more positive direction.

Other Things to Know About Tantrums

Although temper tantrums can be exhausting (for both parents and child), these angry outbursts are usually harmless. Usually, the only time a problem arises is when the child attempts to hurt herself or others during the process. Keeping a mental list of what not to do can help ensure you navigate through the tantrum situation as quickly and easily as possible. Avoid:

  • Responding in anger
  • Punishing the tantrum (it’s better to manage the behavior before an episode occurs)
  • Worrying about what others many think about your child’s behavior or your parenting
  • Bribing the tantrum away with promises of rewards

Finally, don’t forget to respond affectionately and nurture your child throughout the situation; it does not mean you are accepting her behavior. Rather, an encouraging cuddle from you can help her feel secure and quickly dissolve her anger for a more acceptable behavioral response.

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