TEMPER TANTRUMS…A DIVE THROUGH

Jan 13, 2022

Blogs related to children have one major focus here which aims at helping  the readers know and understand more and deep about their off springs’  growth and development. This blog’s focus is on the commonly found behavior in children, the classical temper tantrums.

Temper tantrum in kids is like a meltdown, fit or hissy fit in the form of an emotional outburst. It usually occurs at the time of emotional distress, commonly observed among children in the age range 2- to 4-years. They are characterized by

Ø Crying

Ø Screaming

Ø Stubbornness

Ø Hitting

Ø  kicking,

Ø Angry ranting

Ø Physical violence

Ø  Lying on the floor,

Ø  Occasionally holding the breath (rarely to the point of passing out).

The onset of tantrums is between 12 to 18 months. The peak point is in between 2 to 3 years, then start falling by age 4. The main reasons behind tantrums are

Ø Feeling tired,

Ø Being hungry,

Ø Keeping unwell

Ø Insufficient attention

Ø Out of frustration of not getting his or her way

Ø Lack of vocabulary and  speech to communicate the above

Temper tantrums in young children are not planned, they don’t mean to embarrass or demean the parents. They are simply the red flags to convey their uneasiness and discomfort. But older children might use them as learnt helplessness. When their tantrums are rewarded, they get in the habit of throwing them whenever the parent/caretaker does not bow to their demands.

There are no fool proof ways to prevent human behaviors, so goes for tantrums, instead there is plenty to in still good enough habits and behavior among children in even the youngest ones.

Ø Consistent Approach: A structured daily routine established by the parent gives a fair idea of the “to do” tasks to the child for the day. Sticking to the schedule is a value add which conveys to the child that this is how it is supposed to be. Dear Parents, it is understandable that there are days when consistency slips down, occasional flexibility is accepted. Researches have revealed that the consistent approach doesn’t give enough time and space to the child to get into tantrum mode. Plan ahead. Run errands when your child isn't likely to be hungry or tired. If you're expecting to wait in line, pack a small toy or snack to occupy your child.

Ø Chance to Choose: A perpetual parental tendency to say” NO” or reject  kids’ ideas and choices fill them with anger and negligence.  To develop a sense of control among toddlers, allow them to make choices at times. "Would you like to wear your red shirt or your blue shirt?" "Would you like to eat strawberries or bananas?" "Would you like to read a book or build a tower with your blocks? “Are few examples to cite. Avoid promising false hopes and unrealistic demands.

Ø Re enforce the Good Behavior:  Parent’s pat, hug, kiss, kind words are the ultimate reinforcers to the child’s actions. Right reciprocation satisfactorily suffices the attention need of the child. Appropriate reinforcement is an ideal setting to prevent tantrums among the young children.

Ø Mindful Planning: It refers to avoid situations which are likely to trigger tantrums. Choose to provide toys and activities which are age appropriate. Under or over age toys and activities cause frustration in children.  While planning a lunch or dinner outing see that the place is well ventilated, spacious, well-lit and offers quick service. For shopping errands avoid visiting such markets or malls where too many toy or candy shops are around as they would ignite the tantrum engine. If you have to leave the baby home, see that he/she is well fed and preferably sleeping.

Ø Acknowledge their Feelings: Understanding and validating the child’s feelings and emotions is a sure shot way to keep them away from feeling irritated and neglected.   Let the child know that you feel his fear or sadness. Offer help to soothe him and feel protected. Little ones need a lot of attention, acknowledging them can help ease their emotions.

Ø Prepare for transitions: Sudden transitions such as leaving the house or the playground, can be difficult for a child and is likely to set in triggers for tantrums. Hence prior information can give them time to get ready and prepared for it. In case a new sibling is expected or a decision to move to a new house is on cards timely preparation will help him settle with the change considerably better.

Ø Food Intake and Sleep Routine: Hunger and insufficient sleep are more than enough reasons behind the child’s howling and irritability further leading to tantrums. Ensure the child is well fed a balanced diet and gets enough sleep to recharge his energy.

Ø Calm Posture: Calmness from a parent is recommended in all situations but it is most vital in cases when the tantrum has been thrown by the child. Parent’s loud voice, anger outburst would aggravate the tantrum all the more. Shouting at a child as a measure to calm him down is quite likely to double the tantrum duration. Instead try to divert his attention towards his favorite toy or try something funny as emotional hopping is too quick in young kids.

Ø Tantrums do escalate at times; most workable trick is to take the child away from that place even if force is required. Enforcing a timeout but occasionally is another way out to escalate the situation. Ideal timeout spot is a boring place where none passes by and his possessions are not accessible. In case the child does not comply to timeout spot and timeline use firm body language and clear instructions in minimal words. The duration of the timeout has to be 2 to 4minutes preferably equivalent to the child’s age. Avoid responding to anything the child says while he or she is in timeout.

After the child has calmed down, briefly discuss the reason for the timeout and why the behavior was unacceptable. Follow up the usual routine post this and try not to discuss it all again.

Treat timeouts as the last measure, its occasional implication would yield effective outcomes. Temper tantrums do lessen as the child’s physical and cognitive age increases. If your child is causing harm to himself or herself or others, holds his or her breath during tantrums to the point of fainting, or has worsening tantrums after age 4, share your concerns with the doctor.

Tantrums are treated as a normal part of child’s development. They start when the child is trying to seek independence and does not have enough speech and language to express between ages 1 to 4. If child is trying to self-harm or others, holds his or her breath during tantrums to the point of fainting, or has worsening tantrums after age 4, share your concerns with the doctor. Take professional help from a Psychologist in case tantrums do not go away by the age of 4.5 years. Ignoring the condition till too late may pitch in behavioral and emotional concerns in both parent and the child.