Tips for when your toddler tosses his toys

TANTRUM TAMING: There's no logic behind most tantrums and what triggers one one day will not necessarily trigger one the next.
TANTRUM TAMING: There's no logic behind most tantrums and what triggers one one day will not necessarily trigger one the next.

Many parents would, I'm sure, agree that the most embarrassing and dreaded event that can be experienced with a two-year-old is the supermarket temper tantrum.

he screaming little body with flailing arms and legs can be totally unmanageable. Tantrums tend to occur at crucial times in a child's development and they usually result from:

● Frustration at not having the words to make themselves understood.

● Confusion because they don't understand what we're saying or asking.

● Struggling to solve problems such as getting a stuck toy loose or a sock on.

● Lacking the motor skills to do things that other people can do such as reaching up to a shelf or drawing.

● Hunger or tiredness.

● Illness.

● Over-stimulation.

● Anxiety or discomfort.

● Stress or change in the household.

● Jealousy of a younger sibling.

● A battle of wills. Even at this age, children can have a sense, perhaps not consciously so, of how to push a parent's buttons.

Some suggestions for minimising tantrums:

● Identify what tends to trigger them and watch for the signs - hunger, boredom, over-stimulation, a time of day.

● Plan ahead. Make sure you're both fed, watered and rested and choose the best time of day to head out.

● Avoid long outings or visits where a lot of sitting still is expected or take a favourite book and toy with you

● Set reasonable limits and don't expect your child to be perfect.

● Give simple reasons and don't keep changing the rules.

● Daily routines give security.

● Encourage your children to use sign language words to describe how they feel or what they want.

● Get them to help in the supermarket.

● Change locations or activities as a distraction if things are getting tense.

● Don't automatically say no. Listen carefully and then decide.

● Give choice whenever possible. Bath time isn't open for debate but you can still give a choice - "It's time for your bath. Would you like me to carry the towels or will you?"

● Know what lights your fuse. You're the adult in the situation. It's not personal. It's part of growing up.

● For genuine frustration, give comfort or assistance calmly and warmly.

● Don't bother trying to reason mid- tantrum.

● Stay calm - don't allow yourself to be pushed into an explosive response.

The nature of tantrums at this age means that there's little point in punishing beyond a time-out period to regain composure. Certainly don't bribe a child to stop, or reward a child for stopping as this means the tantrum has paid off.

Frustration is a part of life and children need to learn how to handle it even if you feel, at times, that you just don't want to be involved in the process.

© Ian Munro 2014. All rights reserved.

The Timaru Herald