Anytime I’m in a store and see a parent ignoring their child while they are in the throes of a temper tantrum, I want to want to give them a high five. It takes guts to turn attention to shopping instead of a child that is screaming at the top of their lungs. After raising two children of my own, having six grandchildren that lived close to me during the tantrum years, and being around thousands of toddlers during my career in early education, I feel somewhat of an expert on the subject.
Tantrums are a result from a young child not being able to regulate their emotions as they gain independence. These intense emotions are usually the result of not being able to express needs or wants. Everyone has heard of “the terrible two’s,” but tantrums can begin around 12 months of age and should end as the child gains expressive language skills around 3 years of age. Tantrums are often replaced with sassiness or verbal defiance as the four-year-old child begins to learn negotiation skills and regulate their impulses.
Tantrums are exhausting for adults and children alike, even for the parent that has mastered the art of ignoring a screaming toddler. The question is, “Can tantrums be prevented?” I have not found one thing that will prevent a tantrum for all children, but I do have tips on how to temper the tantrums.
Tempering The Tantrum Tips:
Create schedules and routines that help a young child know what to expect
Make sure your child gets enough sleep – It is hard to control emotions when you are tired. Young children need the following amount of sleep each day according to The Sleep Foundation:
1-2 years: 11 to 14 hours
3-5 years: 10 to 13 hours
Provide nutritious food or sacks at least every 2-3 hours
Make sure your child is hydrated with water
Teach your child sign language so that they can express their needs (babysignlanguage.com)
Give your child choices
- Give your child choices (yes, choices help prevent and lessen)
- Ignore the tantrum and tell your child to let them know when they are finished so that you can help them
- Address their feeling and label it (For example: I see you are mad. I can understand what you are saying while you are screaming. Let me know when you are finished so that we can find a way to make you feel better.)
When To Seek Help
- When a child is hurting themselves, such as biting or banging head on surfaces
- When a child has good verbal skills and is still throwing tantrums
- When a child is 4 years of age or older
Try these tips for tempering tantrums and don’t forget to give yourself a “high five.”