Handling Temper Tantrums- How to Overcome Chaotic Behaviour in Young Children

Your child’s supersonic screams, incessant crying and rigorous kicking and throwing things may make you go berserk and you may feel like running out of the house. But parents, keep your calm for there’s surely some other way out and definitely your child isn’t actually a “problem child”. It is perfectly normal for toddlers of ages 1 to 3 and children as old as 5 or 6, to go on tantrum sprees and display aggressive demeanour. As parents you need to don your patience hat and try to handle the situation in an effective and congenial way. Patience and perseverance can go a long way in imbuing the right values while developing an understanding of your child’s psychology.  

So what goes on behind your little one’s mind? Well, tantrums mostly emanate from stressful situations such as hunger, exhaustion or not getting enough of what they actually desire. This may not be restricted to only materialistic things but also to some emotional want such as a cuddle or some words of appreciation from parents or near and dear ones. Place yourself in your toddler’s shoes and you would understand such lashing-out behaviour may be just natural for your 2 or 3 year old who has not yet mastered the skills of expressing himself or herself in an appropriate way.

You may even get irked when your 5 year old gives a deaf ear to your calls or simply refuses to come for dinner. He or she may just be doing so to seek your attention.

As a parent then, what do you do? Here are some quick but effective tips to tame your child’s tantrums.

Get into the Roots of Tantrum Triggers:- First of all, get into the roots of it. Is your toddler lashing out because he is sleep deprived or hungry? Is your 5 year old jittery because he wants your attention even when you are caught up in your web of work or she does not wish to take her bath simply because she is not in the mood of it? Depending on the nature of the tantrum, handle your ward with diplomacy and affection. If it’s anything to do with his physical needs, attend to it immediately. If he is throwing an attention-seeking tantrum talk to him in a calm tone, make him understand and just say you love and trust him and that you would listen to him only when he is calm. Do not give in to his wants. If it’s her snack-time or bath-time, set out the time limit for her so as to help her prepare herself mentally before the actual time.

Keep your Calm, but don’t try to Calm him/ her: As parents you need to keep your cool, even though your child may make you go bananas. Talk in a softer tone and try making him understand. If he/ she is in a fit of rage, do not make any attempts to calm him/ her. The best way to handle such situation is to leave him/ her by himself for a few minutes and check out after you feel he/she has calmed down a bit. Do not try to make him understand at that point of time or reason with him. You will find your ward automatically calming down, in most circumstances once he/she understands that you would not relent.

Empathise with him/her:- Once he/ she melts down, try empathizing with him/her. Hold him/ her if he/she allows you to do so, give your child a hug just to assure that you are there beside him/ her.

Distract him/her:- Smaller children often get easily distracted and you can use this to your advantage. For instance, in case of hysterics in public places such as departmental stores or shopping malls, if your child demands for things you do not wish to indulge him’ her in, try the distraction method luring him/ her to something he/she would be equally tempted towards such as a bar of ice cream or chocolate. Children have shorter memory spans and tend to forget easily. So put on the garb of an actor or entertainer and go about it.

Prevent Tantrum throwing Behaviour: Prevention is better than cure. Hence, try avoiding tantrum triggering situations as much as possible. Engage your child in some activity he/she has a knack in, give him/ her some quality time, let him/her have his/her own space and encourage simple decision making at times. Be a role model and keep calm or at least pretend to be so, for getting angry will only make matters worse.

Consult your Child’s School Counsellor for persistent behavioral issues:- If you observe persistent outbursts, call on your child’s school Counsellor. Top schools in Pune such as The Lexicon International School, Wagholi have dedicated and qualified full-fledged counsellors who attend to a mélange of issues of students and help resolve them. A talk with the counselor will help you understand any underlying issue and ways to handle it better. Counsellors also help by talking to children and proffering them with positive reinforcements.

Finally, remember never to blame yourself for your child’s flare-ups. It’s just a natural part of development and you are doing a fantastic job as a parent. So give kudos to yourself. Keep it up.