Preventing and managing tantrums
Did you know?
A child’s brain develops faster between birth to 3 years of age than any other time. In fact, by the time they are 3, they have 1000 trillion brain connections, which is twice as many as adults
Zero to Three, 2021
Temper tantrums are very common in toddlers and young children and usually start at around 18 months. They can happen for different reasons and children often become frustrated, resulting in tantrums. Commonly, this is because children are trying to communicate their feelings, thoughts and wishes, but don’t quite have the communicative skills yet to do so, and find the situation difficult to process. When children reach the age of 4, and are able to talk more, tantrums become less common and solutions to problems are more achievable.
When tantrums do happen, it is important to remain calm and reinforce positive behaviour as much as possible. Although it can be tricky at times, it is also crucial to ignore any negative behaviour, whilst reinforcing the boundary or request you as their parent or carer have made. Here are some other useful things you can try to prevent tantrums occurring or worsening:
- Find a distraction
- Allow your child to make age and stage-appropriate choices
- Wait for the tantrum to stop and ignore any looks or comments from those around you (unless they are positive and encouraging to you!)
- Remain consistent with the decision/s you have made – giving in will allow children to think that by having a tantrum, they are able to achieve what they want.
- Be prepared whilst out and about – plan how you will entertain and involve your child whilst carrying out your visit.
- Avoid situations that you know are likely to trigger a tantrum.
If a tantrum escalates, remove your child from the situation and enforce a timeout:
- Select a timeout spot. Seat your child in a boring place, such as in a chair in the living room or on the floor in the hallway. Wait for your child to calm down. Consider giving one minute of timeout for every year of your child's age.
- Stick with it. If your child begins to wander around before the timeout is over, return him or her to the designated timeout spot. Don't respond to anything your child says while he or she is in timeout.
- Know when to end the timeout. When your child has calmed down, briefly discuss the reason for the timeout and why the behaviour was inappropriate. Then return to your usual activities.
Don't use timeouts too much, however, or they won't work.
Your child’s Key Person/Nursery Teacher is also a great source of help, should parents and carers have any concerns regarding their child’s behaviour – please do not hesitate to contact them.
Remember: Children are great imitators, so give them something great to imitate!