If you’re a parent like me, or even someone who is not a parent but has experience dealing with kids, you will probably already know that dealing with a child’s temper tantrums can be quite challenging. In fact, many people might even say that they are often clueless about how to handle kids’ tantrums, especially when they’re in the toddler stage.
The truth is that even if toddler tantrums are difficult to diffuse, and can be extremely embarrassing when they happen in public, there are often perfectly sound reasons behind them.
According to Certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator and homeschooling mom of three Mariel Uyquiengco, tantrums among toddlers, i.e. children between the ages of 1 and 2 years, usually occur “because of unmet needs that they can’t yet communicate.”
In addition, Uyquiengco, who is also a parent education speaker at The Learning Basket, a resource hub for parents, says that toddler tantrums also occur when children “get frustrated for not being understood.”
“They can also be emotional outbursts stemming from a physical condition such as tiredness and hunger,” she explains.
If you’re struggling with how to handle temper tantrums in your child, Uyquiengco shares the tips below but reminds parents they are mainly for toddlers. “Older kids’ tantrums can be about power struggles, so the tips given are not applicable,” she says.
Tips for dealing with toddler tantrums
- Remember the possible reasons.
Read through the reasons mentioned and try to keep them in mind whenever your toddler throws a tantrum. There is usually a reason why he or she acts out, and it’s almost never “just because.”
- Do the following:
- Focus on your child; drop what you’re doing and look into your child’s eyes.
- Try to figure out if there’s a physical need and meet that need. For example: Maybe the child is sleepy (perhaps you missed his or her usual nap time because you were busy or out and about). Or maybe your little one is hungry (because he or she got busy playing).
- If doing the aforementioned doesn’t work, remember that the usual cause of toddler tantrums is that the child is not understood, so try to guess the most probable cause. Since your toddler cannot communicate that clearly yet, try to put into words what the cause may be. Say the words slowly, point to the corresponding object if applicable, and wait for your child to respond.
For example, “Do you need something? Is this what you want? Are you upset about something? Is it this? (while pointing or picking up the object)”
Discipline is teaching
As a parting note, Uyquiengco reminds parents and other people who are tasked to care for children that “disciplining toddlers and young kids is about teaching them skills and not about who’s right or wrong.” As it in written in Proverbs 22:6, “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.”