Temper Tantrums: Dealing With Recalcitrant Tots
Dealing with a temper tantrum is difficult, but they are a part-and-parcel of having children. Clinical psychologists point out that toddlers in the 1-4 age group have not yet developed the skills required to deal with difficult situations. As a result, their coping skills have not yet developed and they tend to lose control if they are unable to express their requirements. In fact, most tantrums arise from the fact that the child is unable to express his need for something. This may be food, a toy, a diaper change, etc. But as they are unable to communicate this need, they tend to get frustrated by a non-responding parent and throw a fit.
In older children, temper tantrums have a different basis. Children in the 3-4 age group are more independent and they know what they want. As a result, they try to assert their independence as much as possible. If a parent does not respond to their needs, then they use a temper tantrum as a way to force parents to comply. Now, most parents know that the best way to deal with a temper tantrum is to ignore it but these outbursts can be difficult to ignore. Dealing with the crying, rolling, and shouting can be downright annoying and frustrating for the parent as well, but there are simple ways to deal with the solution.
Surprisingly, this does seem to work. During a temper tantrum, your child is venting his emotions. His frontal cortex is in control and he is not going to respond to any logical requests. It's like teaching a person to swim when they are drowning. There is nothing you can do during a temper tantrum that will resolve the problem. It's far better to wait it out and then discuss the problem with the child. This also sends a clear message to the child than temper tantrums do not work and his/her parent will not negotiate during a tantrum.
Your child has fixated on an issue and is venting his anger about it during the tantrum. Clinical psychologists say that this is completely fine. However, the child may be in a dangerous situation or area. If this happens, you can start breaking out a few distractions that will keep him safe. Distractions may include new books, new toys or old toys not seen for a long time, snacks, favorite CDs, etc. Anything that will catch his attention and make him forget about what caused the meltdown. In fact, such distractions can even ward off a meltdown if you learn to recognize the signs early on. Clinical psychologists also point out that children are extremely easy to distract and you can easily switch their attention with simple items like ice cream, toys, or just some new device.
Discipline And Incentives
Every child needs discipline in their life. This way they know what to expect at a certain time in their day. This also helps them regulate their life and their behavior. You can set the ground rules early on by saying, ' We are going to the supermarket but I am not going to buy any toys. If you like something, let me know and I will buy it for your birthday. But I will not buy anything today.' This sets clear ground rules for the child and it also provides an incentive for good behavior. They know that an outing is planned but they cannot make a fuss about buying surplus toys. Once the rules are clear and once the child realizes that meltdowns don't work; you will see fewer such outbursts. This may seem like bribery, but it's actually a set of clear cut rules that tell your child what to expect and when to expect it.