Of late we’ve been witnessing a lot of those ill famed toddler tantrums at home. We were warned about the terrible twos and the difficult toddler years but we were in no way prepared for this phase. My son’s tantrums generally follow a cycle of getting angry, throwing things, shouting, a little bit of hitting and then a whole lot of crying. Small things can frustrate him, like the battery of a toy draining out or his car getting stuck under a table. Sometimes even the word ‘No’ can set him off.
Dealing with the tantrums takes us every ounce of patience and then some more. We have to keep reminding ourselves that children mirror our behavior, and if we react and get angry, they are going to do it too. Understanding the reasons behind these toddler tantrums helps along way in dealing with them and avoiding them altogether.
Hungry or tired?
A well fed and well-rested child is a happier one. Children this age are often confused by feelings of hunger or exhaustion and even small incidents can set off a tantrum. So it’s generally a good idea to check if your child is hungry. Of course, it’s also important that your child doesn’t grow up to have an unhealthy relationship with food and doesn’t end up turning to food for comfort. So offer healthy snacks like fresh fruits or nuts but don’t push them to eat.
When it comes to sleep, we can often misjudge how much sleep our children need. For e.g a 2-year-old like my son still needs about 12-14 hours of sleep each day, with a 10-12 hour stretch at night. So in case, your child is getting frequently upset and not sleeping well in the night, he might very well be overtired.
Inability to communicate
My toddler has an expansive vocabulary and seems to be learning new words and phrases every day. Which is why I often forget that he’s still very young and he can still have trouble communicating. Your child may be a big talker or not, but they still struggle to put words to what they’re feeling. When your child does scream or hit, teach them to use their words. Teach them to use their inside voice and ask them what’s wrong. Try to help them with their communication so that the next time they get overwhelmed they know how to express it.
As parents, we are constantly busy and always overworked. So more often than not we tend to say things like “Don’t do that, Don’t touch this, Don’t go there.” So a lot of times children tend to hear negative words like ‘No’ and ‘Don’t’ and ‘Won’t’. My toddler gets quite upset if we tell him there’s something that he can’t or shouldn’t do and he definitely dislikes the word ‘No’. Postive and affirmative statements tend to have a better effect on children. So instead of a ‘Don’t talk loudly’ a ‘Talk Softly’ or instead of ‘Don’t hit’ a ‘Mama is getting hurt’ tends to work much better. You are able to get your message across in a much more positive and constructive manner.
Toddlers begin to realize that they are a separate entity from their parents and begin to assert their independence. They might venture out a little farther than usual when out with parents, or touch things they are explicitly asked not to. They essentially try to see how far they can push the limits before you get upset.
It is ideal to allow your child to explore their surroundings independently, help them make decisions and choices and offer them a safe and happy place to be themselves. Of course, since their safety is paramount, it would mean removing dangerous objects from their reach. That way you don’t have to watch your child like a hawk at all times and they get to explore all that their world offers without having to hear the word ‘No’ all the time.
Tips to handle
With all things said and done, toddlers are toddlers. I think it is impossible to entirely avoid all toddler tantrums. They are small humans trying to figure out this world that even we as adults find overwhelming sometimes. So when they do have tantrums,
- Stay Calm
- Talk Softly
- Try to divert your toddler’s attention
- If they get too overwhelmed you can let them cry a little and get it out of your system.
- Sometimes giving them a hug and holding them helps them gain composure.
We’ve all heard that parenting is a tough job. You have to weigh the pros and cons of all your decision, you have to watch your every word and every action and there is someone who is so entirely dependent on you. I’ve realized that being a child is really no easier, especially if you are a toddler. They are learning to understand this world they are in, they are no longer as innocent or naive as a baby and they are not old enough to control their emotions or put them in words.
Our job as parents is not just to teach them alphabets and numbers or teach them right and wrong but also to help them grow and blossom into wonderful, happy adults. The point is to not focus on these so called toddler tantrums but to figure out the reason behind it. Each passing year brings a lot of change in a child and we should try to help them understand the changes, their ever increasing abilities and become the best version of themselves.