TODDLER tantrums come in all shapes and sizes – but they’re all part of growing up.
If you see your little one frustrated or exploding into anger, don’t panic. Toddler tantrums are one of the ways that young children express and manage their feelings.
You might see crying, screaming, stiffening limbs, an arched back, kicking, falling down, flailing about or running away.
But it’s the whining and crying to screaming, kicking, and breath holding that are common toddler tantrum outbursts.
They’re equally common in boys and girls and usually happen between the ages of 1 to 3.
While it might seem super tempting to scream and yell when your toddler is throwing a tantrum, it’s probably not the best solution.
But if you’re desperate to stop the toddler tantrum before it’s even begun, we’ve got some advice from an expert.
Maggie & Rose Education and Curriculum Director, Lucy Prew, explained the ins and outs of toddler tantrums.
Whether it’s spotting the key warning signs, learning how to head things off when your little one starts to get cross and the best distraction techniques, Lucy has it all covered.
She said: “In very young children, tantrums are a way of expressing and managing their feelings, trying to understand or change what’s going on around them.
“They are very common between the ages of 1 and 3 years.
“Children of this age simply don’t have the words to express big emotions, their social and emotional skills are only just starting to develop, and they’re beginning to learn that the way they behave can influence the way other people behave too.
“As children become older, they can still find it challenging to express themselves and become frustrated or be overwhelmed by big emotions.
“Very often, ‘tantrums’ are triggered simply by stress, hunger, tiredness, or overstimulation, making it too difficult for a young child to regulate their emotions.”
KEY WARNING SIGNS
Toddler tantrums can stress the calmest parent.
Whether your child’s got the terrible twos, bedtime blues or the dreaded public tantrum, here’s the key warning sign Lucy said you should look out for.
However, the expert said there’s many steps you can take to help reduce your toddler’s tantrum.
Lucy added: “Tantrums are commonplace amongst toddlers and preschoolers.
“But there are some practical steps parents and caregivers can take to make them less likely to rear their head!”
REDUCE YOUR CHILD’S STRESS
One of Lucy’s top tips in learning how to head things off when your toddler is getting ready to have a meltdown, is to reduce your child’s stress.
She said: “Keep an eye out that your little one is having regular food and drink, not getting over-tired or overstimulated.”
TUNE INTO YOUR CHILD’S FEELINGS
The Education and Curriculum Director at Maggie & Rose Family Members’ Club added that parents need to tune into their child’s feelings to be able to stop the toddler tantrum.
She explained: “Tune into your child’s feelings – this will help you better sense when a big feeling is on its way.
“It can help you to talk to them about what’s going on so they can better articulate and manage their emotions.
“It may also help you head the tantrum off at the pass by distracting your little one!”
LOOK FOR THE TRIGGERS
Another way to stop a toddler tantrum before it’s even begun, is to look out for your child’s triggers, suggested Lucy.
She shared: “If you can identify situations and environments in which your child is more likely to feel overwhelmed, you can better plan to reduce the emotional impact.
“For example, if your supermarket trip always ends in tears, consider changing the time of your visit so your little one has had a nap or snack beforehand.
“Talk to them ahead of the visit to set expectations as to what you’re going to do: ‘we are shopping for food only today, not toys. Would you like to be in charge of the list for me and check it off?’”
DON’T RUSH IN
The Education and Curriculum Director said another important tip is to not ‘rush’ at your child while they are on the edge of having a tantrum.
Lucy commented: “Don’t rush in! Recognise that when your child is overwhelmed, their rational brain is limited.
“Connect with them to calm them down by acknowledging what they are feeling before you offer a solution or say why it’s not possible.
“For example, ‘I’m here, you are safe.’ Or ‘I know you wanted that lollipop so badly.’ Don’t add on the ‘but’ or ‘because’ – they can’t hear you until they have calmed down!”
TALK ABOUT EMOTIONS
Another one of Lucy’s tips to stop a toddler tantrum before it’s even begun, is to acknowledge and talk about emotions with your child.
She added: “When your child struggles with a strong feeling, encourage them to name the feeling and what caused it.
“For example, ‘Did you throw that toy because you were cross that it wasn’t working? What else could you have done?’”
But Lucy revealed that one of the most important methods in stopping a toddler tantrum, is to not panic and recognise how normal it is.
She said: “Above all, recognise this is a normal reaction as your child is learning to develop emotionally and socially.
“Rather than letting the tantrum press your buttons, try your best to put yourself in your little one’s shoes.
“It will help you to quickly assess what is happening and how best you can support them.”
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