How do I manage my toddler's tantrums?

Dealing with a tantrum is easier said then done. The child is frustrated and angry, and you may also be caught up in the emotion of the moment, however hard you try not to be. You may want to do anything to stop the tantrum. You may feel embarrassed and ashamed about the tantrum and feel that it is somehow a reflection of you as a parent; try to keep a cool head.

  • You cannot reason with a child in a tantrum, there is no point in attempting any kind of discussion until it is all over.
  • Do your best to keep your emotions out of it. If you get angry it will only feed the spiral of emotions and make things worse. Some parents find it helpful to deliberately 'go robotic' to keep their own feelings in check.
  • It might be a good idea to say that you are leaving the room or that you will walk away. Then go somewhere you can see your child, but your child can't see you; usually, without an audience, your child will stop screaming
  • Try to develop a thick skin. Do what you need to do and ignore the attention of other people, if they are rude enough to stare.
  • Make an effort to hug the child and talk soothingly into his ears; they can often frighten themselves by the sheer strength of their own emotions.
  • Reassure the child, acknowledging how they are feeling ('you must be feeling very cross', 'I can see that you are very angry').
  • If appropriate you can pick up your child when in a tantrum and take them away from any attention.
  • Don't smack. It does not help and only increases the level of violence and emotion in the situation. Remember, children learn by copying!

It is best not to give in to the tantrum. If the child learns you change your mind if they have a tantrum, they will use the power of a tantrum to get their own way. If you feel you are not coping well with a tantrum, make sure your child is safe and call a friend to talk it over. A rational friend who is not caught up in the situation can help you see things in perspective.

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