Emotional meltdown in toddlers is what constitutes their tantrum trips, and according to Psychiatrist in Karachi they are a way for the children to express frustration. In order for the parents to deal effectively with these tantrums, they must first understand the reason for this frustration and tantrum throwing. Read on to know more about toddler tantrums, and the reasons behind.
Why do toddlers throw tantrums?
Unlike adults, toddlers, especially those between the ages of 1 to 3 years, don’t have the ability to regulate their own emotions and nervous system. In addition, it is during this age that their language skills are developing but they cannot communicate their needs and wants, thereby causing them frustration. These factors lead to the child reacting strongly to a mild situation and displaying unpleasant behaviors.
As their language skills become better and they can express themselves verbally, the tantrum-throwing decreases.
What are the common reasons for tantrums?
Toddlers mostly throw tantrums over several reasons. These can be:
- The child is tired: tantrums are common after playtime because children feel tired but have trouble communicating this. Toddlers who are throwing tantrums due to tiredness are usually irritable and slow while refusing to engage in any activity.
- The child is hungry: timely feeding can also put an end to tantrums, as many of them as just an indication for hunger.
- An overstimulated toddler: loud noises, too many people, bright lights or a new place can overstimulate the toddler leading to tantrums. In such cases, it can be helpful to talk them into covering their eyes or putting their hands over the ears.
- The toddler wants parents’ attention: if the toddler simply wants the attention of the parents, they can end up throwing a tantrum. Spending time with them, playing with them and picking them up can help soothing the tantrums.
- The child is frustrated: this is by far one of the commonest reasons for tantrums. Children get frustrated when they are unable to communicate. But frustration tantrums are also common when they are told they cannot have something.
How to respond to tantrums?
The best way for the parents to respond to tantrums is to stay calm themselves. It can be challenging for a parent to have a shouting toddler at hand, but staying calm is key. If a parent responds with anger or scolding, the child can imitate the behavior and it can make things worse.
Distraction can work best on the child, be it a new book, new location or even making a funny face. If the child is hitting someone or kicking, holding them until they calm down, works. After they settle down, it’s important to explain the rules to them.
How to prevent tantrums?
While there is no certain way to prevent tantrums, the following tips can be helpful:
- Sticking to a routine: if the child sticks to their daily routine, they are less likely to throw random tantrums. This includes having a nap time, a play time and bedtime. If the child gets sufficient rest, attention and food their temper is likely to be moderate.
- Praising good behavior: if the child behaves well or stops their tantrum upon prompting, offer them extra attention and praise their good behavior.
- Planning ahead: when running errands, ensure that you have snacks on hand or toys to occupy the child so the child is not bored or hungry.
What to do if the tantrums turn destructive?
If the tantrums turn destructive, enforce a ‘timeout’.
- Select a spot for timeout: this can be a chair in the hallway or on the floor in the living room. The child should sit on the timeout spot and given time to calm down. On average, one minute should be allowed for every year of the child’s age. For instance, if the child is three, then three minutes are enough for a time out.
- When the child has calmed down: end the timeout and let them return to usual activities. Briefly talk about why the timeout was necessary for them.
However, experts like those at Fauji Foundation Hospital recommend a moderate use of timeouts, as overusing them will be counterproductive.