by Brandy Abalos

Nearly every child will have a tantrum at one point or another. They are prevalent in 2-and-3-year-olds in the toddler stage. They can be very frustrating and even embarrassing if they occur in public. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent these dreaded events and face them head-on.
Understanding Toddler Tantrums
A tantrum is an uncontrolled outburst of emotions, often anger or frustration. They may involve screaming, crying, kicking, stomping and throwing themselves to the ground. They are completely normal and often arise because young children do not have the vocabulary to communicate their needs. They may also have difficulty regulating their intense emotions, which can become overwhelming. The first step in dealing with a tantrum is understanding it. Dr. Michael Potega, a psychologist and professor at the University of Minnesota, estimates that 85% of 2-and-3-year olds have tantrums. They usually begin around 1 year of age and may peak at 1.5 to 3 years old. Some children continue to have tantrums until age 5 or later.
Show Your Child How to Remain Calm in Stressful Situations
It’s important to exemplify the behavior you want your child to exhibit. If you want them to remain calm when they are upset, then you should show them that it’s possible. That does not mean that you can’t ever be upset; however, if you lose your cool, it’s essential to calm down as quickly as possible and talk through what happened with your child. Focus on communication and resolving the issue. Try not to respond to your child loudly with anger and frustration. Instead, teach your child that you can use a three-step process to remain calm in any situation:
  1. Take three deep breaths. Stop in any situation and do this immediately.
  2. Say aloud, “I am mad, and my feelings are valid.” You might simplify this for your child. Acknowledging difficult feelings can take their power away.
  3. Repeat to yourself, “This shall pass.” Remind yourself that the negative situation will not last forever.

Use a Safe Space or Comfortable Spot to Relax.

Your child should have a safe space where they feel comfortable. When they feel strong emotions, they can go to their comfy spot and wind down. They might even have pillows or stuffed toys in that location they can snuggle with or seek physical comfort. It can be hard to utilize safe space when a tantrum begins in public, such as at a grocery store. However, you can prepare by allowing them to bring a favorite toy or similar item into the car with them. You don’t have to take it into the store. Explain that it could be lost. Instead, when a tantrum begins, take your child to the car calmly and allow them to have a safe space moment in the car.

Avoid Power Struggles with Your Child

Many tantrums begin with a child who wants to express themselves in a certain way. Don’t stress the small things. It won’t really hurt anything for your child to wear a pink tutu to the supermarket. You should enforce certain rules for safety reasons; however, if it is possible, let your child make decisions for themselves. Allowing your child to have some control will support their individual growth. It will build self-esteem and confidence, which will help them outgrow the need for temper tantrums.

Be Sure to Keep Your Child’s Basic Needs Met

Every human, young and old, has basic needs: food, water, sleep and more. If those needs are not met, their emotional well-being will quickly break down. Many toddler tantrums begin because one of those needs isn’t met. You can prevent a tantrum by ensuring your child eats according to a schedule. They will come to expect food at those times of day, and their body will be ready for it. Try to take snacks with you if you will be away from home during those times. You should also ensure your child has water, juice or other drinks at all times.

You Can Effectively Manage Toddler Tantrums with Understanding and Preparation

Toddler tantrums can be challenging to deal with; however, they are not impossible to manage. When you understand your child’s needs and work to fulfill them, you will see fewer tantrums and a happier child.