What is a parent to do when their child is on the floor, flailing their arms, kicking their legs and screaming at the top of their lungs? Most of us have been there and the helpless feeling which follows.
As the scriptures say, “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear”, and this is the case with parenting and dealing with tantrums. It is important to understand why a child has a tantrum in the first place. In an article at KidsHealth.org it suggests that “Temper tantrums range from whining and crying to screaming, kicking, hitting, and breath holding. They’re equally common in boys and girls and usually occur between the ages of 1 to 3.”
I love the example used in the article of “Imagine how it feels when you’re determined to program your DVD player and aren’t able to do it, no matter how hard you try, because you can’t understand how. It’s pretty frustrating — do you swear, throw the manual, walk away, and slam the door on your way out? That’s the adult version of a tantrum. Toddlers are also trying to master their world and when they aren’t able to accomplish a task, they turn to one of the only tools at their disposal for venting frustration — a tantrum.”
Several basic causes of tantrums are familiar to parents everywhere. Children are either:
- seeking attention
“Tantrums are often the result of kids’ frustration with the world. Frustration is an unavoidable part of their lives as they learn how people, objects, and their own bodies work. They are common during the second year of life, a time when children are acquiring language. Toddlers generally understand more than they can express. Imagine not being able to communicate your needs to someone — a frustrating experience that may precipitate a tantrum. As language skills improve, tantrums tend to decrease.”
“Another task toddlers are faced with is an increasing need for autonomy. Toddlers want a sense of independence and control over the environment — more than they may be capable of handling. This creates the perfect condition for power struggles as a child thinks “I can do it myself” or “I want it, give it to me.” When kids discover that they can’t do it and can’t have everything they want, the stage is set for a tantrum.”
Although tantrums are not fun, they are a normal part of child development. When, as a parent, you are skilled with the tools to deal with a tantrum when it comes, it can help to diffuse the situation and help your child to deal with the emotions they are struggling with.