Tantrums are an inevitable occurrence with toddlers but they are not usually a sign of poor parenting, spoilt children, or bad behaviour. They are an important part of growing up and show us that our child has wants and needs of his own.
The first thing to keep in mind is that a toddler in the midst of a tantrum is not rational. They have very limited capacity for problem solving at this point and any attempt to engage in reasoning will probably just trigger further tears and screams.
It can be helpful to tap into your own feelings about the situation to give you a hint about how to manage the tantrum.
If you are feeling frustrated or annoyed with your child’s behaviour he is probably having an “angry” tantrum and you both need some space to calm down. Let him have his rant in a safe way, but limit the attention you give him. Remove eye contact, turn away, and don’t speak to your child. Every now and then, you can turn back to your child and tell him you are ready to help him when he is ready to calm down.
If you are feeling sorry for your child, and wanting to comfort her, she is probably experiencing a “distress” tantrum and will need your help to calm down. A firm hug can help your little one feel loved despite her overwhelmingly emotions. Show your child that you are not frightened by her emotions and are able to help her calm them.
Remember, too, that toddlers have big feelings and small vocabularies. They have not yet managed to find the words to describe how they feel so it can be reassuring if you are able to do this for them. Calmly naming the feeling, e.g. “you feel frustrated because….”, will encourage your little one to use words to express himself in the future, and help him feel understood.
Lastly, try to avoid power struggles with your toddler. Remember that your child is trying to be assertive so, once everyone has calmed down alittle, you can acknowledge the assertiveness while still sticking to your boundary.