Tips for when your toddler tosses his toys

IAN MUNRO
Last updated 16:22 31/05/2014
toddler tantrums
TANTRUM TAMING: There's no logic behind most tantrums and what triggers one one day will not necessarily trigger one the next.

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OPINION: 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.

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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

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