Temper Tantrums (cont.)
How should parents handle temper tantrums in toddlers?
Over the years, parents and psychologists have developed a series of
suggestions to help deal with temper tantrums. These include
- Don't get
sucked into the emotion of the situation. Remain calm and unemotional. If
possible (for example, at home) tell the child you can't understand him when he
behaves that way and leave the area. Inform him that when he calms down you
will talk with him about what he wants. Feeding into the situation by trying to
deal with the out of control child reinforces the behavior.
- Try to distract
or redirect the child. Many parents observe that this strategy works better in
the young toddler; the older child is less likely to be "bought off."
- Discipline should be promptly applied, brief, proportionate to the "crime," and
rendered without emotion by the parent. The classic recommendation for "time-out" of one minute per year of age has well stood the test of time. A quick
verbal explanation of the infraction is reasonable ("You are going into time-out
because you kept pinching your brother. We don't pinch. Pinching hurts.")
- Realize that temper tantrums are a way a child is testing your limits in
addition to a way of venting frustration. If he discovers that he is more likely
to succeed in a certain setting (such as at grocery-store checkout line), he
will persevere in this location. Parents may be very frustrated by their
toddler's temper tantrums in a public venue; take heart in the fact that almost
all the other adults have similarly been the recipient of their child's wrath in
a public locale.
Should children be punished for having temper tantrums?
Temper tantrums in 2- to 4-year-old children are considered an essential part
of normal child development. By the time they are less frequent, children have
substantially increased their expressive verbal skills. In addition, they have
developed alternative and more successful techniques for achieving their goal.
Such maturation requires that parents provide proper role modeling for their
toddler. Therefore, it is important to note that parents who lack effective
anger- and conflict-management skills often provide the opposite. Yelling and
screaming, throwing objects, and physical violence will both terrify a child and
serve as an object lesson of how powerful people handle frustration.