Picture this scenario and think about whether it sounds familiar to you:
Its a beautiful sunny Saturday morning and what better way to spend a pleasant weekend day then running a few errands and enjoying some quality time with your 2-year-old. You plan to start the day at the local grocery store in order to pick up a few things for the week’s meal planning ahead, so you plop your toddler into the shopping cart and begin your usual circumnavigation of the store.
Forgetting the milk, you decide to take a shortcut down aisle seven, not realizing at first that aisle seven is where all the toys are held, glistening in all their glory, and seemingly calling out the name of your little darling child.
Initially the questioning begins and your child asks to stop and play. As you continue motoring down the cursed aisle seven, the gentle questioning quickly turns to loud demanding and ultimately leads to screaming and body thrashing.
The child that is, not you.
What happened to the perfect Saturday morning of errand running and family bonding? Nobody said anything about including a toddler tantrum in the planning!
When do tantrums occur?Were all familiar with the term “the terrible twos,” which is often used when describing the, sometimes difficult, developmental stage of toddlerhood and some of the behavioral challenges that can be associated with that age group.
Tantrums can occur much earlier than the dreaded age of two however, and some children can even display this type of behavior as early as 9-12 months. Tantrums are a normal part of child development and, although it can be quite frustrating for us as parents (and those around us in aisle seven); these are experiences that our children are growing and learning from.
What can trigger a tantrum?
They might be hungry. They might be tired. They might really, really want that toy car. Luckily for us (insert sarcastic tone here please) the results are wonderful 2 year old tantrums.Essentially, a tantrum occurs as a result of the toddler experiencing emotions that are new for them, like frustration or a lack of desired independence or control, and they dont know how to cope with the new and, often quite strong, emotional responses. They dont know how to tell us about these emotions, so they react in the only way that they can in an attempt to try and convey to us how they are feeling or what it is that they want.
If you are able to identify what activities or events are triggering your childs behavior, keep those triggers documented in a notebook, journal or an app on your smart phone. Be sure to include any behavior of note you witness leading up to a tantrum that may give you clues for future use and allow you to intervene before things get really out of hand.
How do you avoid tantrums?Of course, every child is different and that also includes how frequently they will throw a tantrum, but inevitably they will likely occur. By arming yourself with the data you collected in your tantrum trigger journal, you can work at nipping the behavior in the bud before it becomes a full-fledged tantrum.
Easier said than done, theres no doubt about that!
The manner in which tantrums are avoided is two-fold: keep the childs frustration level within a range that they can handle and avoid backing them into a corner, so to speak. Of course, you cant just let the child run crazy without providing some guidance and authority, but doing so cautiously in a way that allows the toddler to feel that they are making some decisions on their own or that they have maintained some control over what is going on, can go a long way in preventing a tantrum from occurring.
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